The weekend firebombing of a North Carolina Republican headquarters drew national attention Sunday, with one state GOP official calling it an act of “political terrorism.”
Hillsborough police say the incident at the Orange County GOP headquarters occurred when a bottle of flammable liquid was thrown through the front window of the office that housed the local GOP headquarters.
The words, “Nazi Republicans get out of town or else” and a swastika were spray painted on the side of an adjacent building. Officials said the bomb ignited inside the office. No damage estimates were available.
“This highly disturbing act goes far beyond vandalizing property; it willfully threatens our community’s safety … and its hateful message undermines decency, respect and integrity in civic participation,” Mayor Tom Stevens said in a statement. “Acts like this have no place in our community.”
Hillsborough police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were continuing to investigate. The incident took place in Orange County, home of the University of North Carolina in nearby Chapel Hill.
The county is overwhelmingly Democratic. Democrats and independents outnumber Republicans 5-1.
Democrats condemned the bombing. “The attack on the Orange County HQ @NCGOP office is horrific and unacceptable, Hillary Clinton’s campaign tweeted. “Very grateful that everyone is safe.”
N.C. Democratic Party Chair Patsy Keever called the bombing “outrageous.”
“The North Carolina Democratic Party strongly condemns this attack,” she said. “Violence has no place in our political system … Our deepest sympathies are with everyone at the North Carolina Republican Party.”
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state GOP, called the bombing “political terrorism.”
“The office itself is a total loss,” he said. “The only thing important to us is that nobody was killed, and they very well could have been.”
Later, Woodhouse said, “Whether you are Republican, Democrat or Independent, all Americans should be outraged by this hate-filled and violent attack against our democracy. … Everyone in this country should be free to express their political viewpoints without fear for their own safety.”
The incident comes barely three weeks before an election marked by heightened tensions and passion on both sides.
On Sunday the Bangor Daily News reported that about 20 cars were vandalized with spray paint outside a Saturday rally for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Earlier this year violence broke out with protesters at a Trump rally in Chicago. And one protester was sucker-punched at a Trump rally in Fayetteville.
“You hope (the firebombing) is an isolated incident,” said Ferrel Guillory, a political analyst at UNC Chapel Hill. “It always happens that toward the end of the campaign, emotions get both frayed and intensified.”
In the meantime, Woodhouse said he’s sending an advisory to county Republican offices across the state warning them to take extra caution.
Anyone with information is asked to call the police department’s tip line at 919-732-3975.
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