‘Jane’s Revenge’ Activist Pleads Guilty in Firebombing of Anti-Abortion Group ‘Wisconsin Family Action’

Madison, WI — Hrindindu Sankar Roychowdhury pleaded guilty on November 20, 2023 to federal arson charges resulting from a 2022 attack claimed under the moniker ‘Jane’s Revenge’ against Wisconsin Family Action, an anti-abortion Christian fundamentalist group.

The attack on Wisconsin Family Action’s office occurred on May 8, 2022, just six days after a leaked Supreme Court decision foretold the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade. Vandals threw two Molotov cocktails made with Mason jars through a window of the offices of Wisconsin Family Action. The Molotovs created a small fire, causing significant damage to the facade and the interior of one of the offices.

The inside of one of the offices at Wisconsin Family Action showing the damage from Roychowdhury’s firebombing attack on May 8, 2022. Photo credit: Alex Shure / AP.

The side of the building was also covered in graffiti, reading, “If abortions aren’t safe then you aren’t either,” as well as a large circle-A and “1312” (the numeric value of the anti-cop slogan ACAB, or “All Cops are Bastards.”)

The parent organization of the offices targeted, Wisconsin Family Council, is staunchly opposed to abortion rights and has lobbied for outlawing gay marriage and promoted legislation that could have been used to jail gay couples.

On March 28, 2023, federal officers arrested Roychowdhury in connection with the arson targeting Wisconsin Family Action’s office. In court documents, law enforcement described seeing Roychowdhury spray paint a message on a building during a January 21, 2023 protest at the Wisconsin State Capitol in response to the police killing of Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Terán in Atlanta, Georgia three days earlier on January 18.

Roychowdhury used a similar cursive style that day as the graffiti found on the exterior of the Wisconsin Family Action building following the arson the previous year, according to a sworn complaint by Cheryl Patty, a detective with the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and a Task Force Officer in the controversial FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) partnership with local law enforcement. Patty joined the Madison JTTF in May 2020, according to her testimony.

Cheryl Patty, a detective with the Dane County Sheriff’s Office and a Task Force Officer in the controversial FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) partnership with local law enforcement. Photo credit: Dane County Sheriff

Editor’s Note: JTTFs across American cities have been repeatedly subject to scrutiny and lawsuits for their role in targeting First Amendment-protected political activity, and have been repeatedly documented engaging in harassment and infiltration of activists not implicated in crimes. While Roychowdhury was not charged with terror offenses, federal entities like the JTTF attempt to classify political crimes such as ‘Jane’s Revenge’ sabotage as terrorism, which helps ensure a harsher outcome for defendants at sentencing by equating politically motivated crimes with actual ‘terrorism.’

Police followed Roychowdhury and claim that they were able to link his DNA to DNA found at the crime scene of the May arson by recovering a half-eaten burrito he tossed into a garbage can. An indictment filed in his case in April charged him with one count of Title 18 U.S.C § 844(i): causing damage by fire or an explosive. 

On November 16, Roychowdhury signed a plea agreement admitting to the crime. The agreement, which does not mention the conduct of any individuals besides Roychowdhury himself, carries a “mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, and maximum penalties of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine … ,” supervised release and restitution, according to the plea deal. Roychowdhury was held in jail since his arrest in the Boston area in March; he is currently incarcerated in Wisconsin under the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. The case has been prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Elizabeth Altman for the Western District of Wisconsin and Trial Attorney Justin Sher of the Department of Justice (DOJ) National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

In late July, a federal judge ruled Roychowdhury must remain in jail until his case resolves, writing that “the court finds that there is strong evidence to suggest that … defendant and two others attempted to firebomb the office of a group holding political views with which defendant disagrees,” and that “no combination of conditions will reasonably assure the safety of at least some others in the community.”

Meanwhile, Wisconsin Family Council founder Marvin Munyon has repeatedly campaigned for the right to beat children in school and personally physically abused numerous children at private schools he administered, inflicting lifelong debilitating trauma on many of his former students, according to a 2011 CNN investigation. In 2017, Munyon lobbied against Mandatory Reporting laws intended to more effectively prosecute child abuse in religious institutions in Wisconsin.

Less than a year and a half after the first Jane’s Revenge attacks, prosecutions and lawsuits continue to drag through the courts, while the FBI continues to seek new suspects.

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