U.S. readies for possible violence after abortion ruling -report

WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) - Law enforcement agencies are readying for a possible spike in violence when the U.S. Supreme Court issues its highly anticipated abortion ruling, including by racist extremists, Axios reported on Wednesday, citing a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo.

Officials are probing threats on social media targeting justices on the nation's top court as well as those directed at court staff, churches and abortion clinics.

A leaked draft opinion in an abortion-related case before the court that could drastically scale back abortion rights, has triggered a wave of protests over the decades-long controversial issue. The court's final decision is expected to come by the end of June.

Thousands turned out in cities across the United States over the weekend calling for abortion rights and have vowed a so-called summer of rage. read more

The U.S. Justice Department last week bolstered security for Supreme Court justices as some protesters held protests outside the homes of at least three conservative members of the court. read more

But the May 13 unclassified memo from DHS' intelligence unit said extremists could also target abortion rights advocates and that the decision could also fuel white supremacists, the report said.

"Some racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists’ embrace of pro-life narratives may be linked to the perception of wanting to 'save white children' and 'fight white genocide,'" the department said, according to Axios.

Asked about the report, a spokesperson for DHS said it “is committed to protecting Americans' freedom of speech and other civil rights and civil liberties, including the right to peacefully protest."

DHS is also committed to working with public and private entities "to share timely information and intelligence, prevent all forms of violence, and to support law enforcement efforts to keep our communities safe," the spokesperson added.

Reporting by Heather Timmons; writing by Susan Heavey; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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