GOP building hit with fire bomb in North Carolina
With all of the insults and accusations being thrown across party lines during this election season, something much more harmful was thrown at the GOP in North Carolina. The North Carolina Orange County Republican Party Headquarters was firebombed and graffitied between midnight and 8:54 a.m. on Oct. 16, according to Hillsborough Police.
The attack left parts of the office burnt and much of the campaign materials partially melted with smoke damage. Nobody was hurt in the accident. The attackers also spray painted swastikas and “Nazi Republicans leave town or else” on the side of a nearby building.
The Hillsborough police had no suspects as of Sunday, but believe that the damage was caused by a bottle containing flammable material thrown through the front window of the GOP office, according to a statement.
“A great deal of teamwork is coming together to work this crime that is so atypical of our community,” Hillsborough Police Chief Duane Hampton said in the statement. “In the shadow of such an ugly crime, we truly appreciate the unity of support that has been offered and want to assure our citizens
that we are working to ensure the safety of our community.”
Soon after reports of the attack both presidential candidates responded via Twitter.
“The attack on the Orange County HQ @NCGOP office is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful everyone is safe,” Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton wrote.
Republican nominee Donald Trump responded with a slightly different tone.
“Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina just firebombed our office in Orange County because we are winning @NCGOP,” Trump wrote. “ALL SAFE IN ORANGE COUNTY, NORTH CAROLINA. With you all the way, will never forget. Now we have to win. Proud of you all! @NCGOP.”
Despite the accusatory claims in Trump’s tweet, Hillsborough police maintained that there were no suspects for the crime.
Reaching over party lines, a Massachusetts democrat, David Weinberger, started a GoFundMe to help the GOP office reopen. With an initial goal of ten thousand dollars, the campaign managed to raise $13,107 in less than 40 minutes. The page was also shared over 16 thousand times and closed to donations after the goal was met.
“Until an investigation is undertaken, we cannot know who did this or why,” Weinberger wrote. “No matter the result, this is not how Americans resolve their differences. We talk, we argue, sometimes we march, and most of all we vote. We do not resort to violence by individuals or by mobs. So, let’s all pitch in, no matter what your party affiliation, and get that office open again quickly.”
The NC GOP also started a GoFundMe with a goal of $75 thousand. 20 hours in, the campaign raised almost $4 thousand by both Democrats and Republicans, as noted by the donation record. The NC GOP GoFundMe page also featured a video from the burnt GOP office with Orange County GOP Chairman Daniel Ashley showing the fire and smoke damage in the office.
Ashley claimed that the fire would not stop the office’s operations and that they would be back in operation to work on early voting. The room was full of warped and partially melted signs for Trump and Pence as well as local North Carolina candidates. Ashley said in the video that the Orange County office will not stop operations because of the violence and threats.
Junior Jared Sclar believes that the incident may be a conspiracy planned by the Trump administration.
“Though I am not normally a conspiracy theorist I wouldn’t necessarily be evolt to the notion that the GOP and Trump may have orchestrated this bombing just to emphasis the notion that the GOP is the ‘law and order’ ticket, and the Democrats are the ‘candidates of chaos.’” Sclar said. “And I think the Democrats’ fundraising to rebuild that kind of counteracts that to say that they are also the ‘law and order’ candidates.”
Junior Nick Hatton was not ready to point blame anywhere, but he was disappointed to hear of the incident.
“I think regardless of your association and regardless of who you are voting for, what happened is completely out of line, especially in this day and age,” Hatton said.
No matter the perpetrators, the attack on the Orange County office shows that the presidential election is worsening the divide between parties. Fortunately, in the wake of a crisis, members of both parties are working together to help each other.