'Night of Rage' concerns at Central Valley churches, Planned Parenthood after Roe overturned

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Saturday, June 25, 2022
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The issue of abortion is so heated, investigators from the Department of Homeland Security are warning of potential violence following the ruling.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The issue of abortion is so heated, investigators from the Department of Homeland Security are warning of potential violence following the Supreme Court ruling.

At St. John's Cathedral in downtown Fresno, a wrought iron fence surrounds the church grounds.

They built it for protection two years ago, but they're concerned it might not be enough this weekend.

The Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade made Friday a day to celebrate for the Catholic Church.

"It's a day of progress for defending life," said Chandler Marquez, communications director for the Diocese of Fresno.

The Vatican opposed abortion long before evangelicals picked up the mantle and its anti-abortion advocacy may now put a target on its churches and pregnancy centers.

"Earlier this week, all of the bishops throughout California were notified by Homeland Security of Night of Rage, extremist groups throughout the nation calling for and endorsing this event," Marquez said.

Fresno Bishop Joseph Brennan sent out a memo earlier this week warning of extreme violence beginning at 8 p.m. on the night of the decision.

The spokesman for the diocese tells me most churches are hiring additional security for this weekend and taking extra precautions.

"It's scary, but the community has really helped us out," Marquez said. "Fresno PD has really helped us protect our parishes in the city."

Police are in constant contact with the diocese, but Chief Paco Balderrama says investigators have no evidence yet of credible local threats.

They have a list of locations that could be targets - including churches and Planned Parenthood - and they'll be on alert until the anger calms down.

"So if they reach out and say 'Hey, we've been threatened' or 'we received a threat', we would look into it and investigate that and provide additional security," Chief Balderrama said. "Again, although we're not expecting anything we have to be prepared for the worst."

The chief says Fresno has a history of relatively good behavior during protests, including at the Tower Theatre recently, so he hopes that holds.