WASHINGTON, D.C.—As the clock struck midnight near the steps of the Supreme Court, tensions mounted and punches were thrown.
Protesters had gathered near the barricades that were set up outside the Supreme Court after a draft opinion leaked to Politico showed the court had voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Texas resident Jason Jones, an anti-choice advocate, told The Daily Beast he threw hands after abortion rights activists attempted to take anti-abortion signs, one of which read, “Thank you, SCOTUS.”
Another anti-abortion rights activist, Jeffery Lance, claimed he was “praying the rosary,” which sparked the anger of counter-demonstrators who attempted to also “grab [his] sign.”
“So I grabbed the one guy off me and took him down,” Jones, a middle-aged male, told The Daily Beast, “and then as I punched him another guy punched me.”
“I took one down... and then another guy punched me,” he continued. Both sides admitted to The Daily Beast that punches were thrown, including from the opposing abortion rights activists who wouldn’t give their names.
Members of the D.C. branch of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), all of whom wore bright yellow traffic vests, then stepped in and separated the parties.
The dust-ups, which kicked off at 12:35, marked only the beginning of a series of clashes between groups. Forty-three Capitol Police officers moved in to form a police line, 17 with riot gear in hand.
“Can’t tell who’s who,” one Capitol Police officer said within earshot of The Daily Beast, as the police force appeared confused as to what factions were among the massive crowd that assembled.
The leaked draft opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, labeled the landmark 1973 case Roe v. Wade “egregiously wrong from the start.”
Earlier Monday evening, the D.C. arm of DSA tweeted that they would be “rallying on the steps of the Supreme Court beginning at MIDNIGHT TONIGHT.”
As midnight passed and 3 a.m. Eastern on Tuesday approached, demonstrators remained posted against the fencing with lit candles.
“None of you have ever experienced living in a world without Roe v. Wade,” one speaker said. “We have to really ponder and understand what we are talking about. Imagine if we were to overturn Brown v. Board of Education. This is the extent of the... crime that has been committed against us.”