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An arsonist firebombed a county Republican Party headquarters in North Carolina

We don’t know who committed the attack.

The window of the Orange County (NC) Republican Party headquarters, damaged by a bottle containing a “flammable liquid” overnight Sunday.
The window of the Orange County (NC) Republican Party headquarters, damaged by a bottle containing a “flammable liquid” overnight Sunday.
Jonathan Drew/AP

The Orange County (North Carolina) Republican Party county headquarters, in Hillsborough, North Carolina, was firebombed in the early hours of Sunday, October 16.

According to a statement on the town government website, a bottle filled with “flammable liquid” was thrown through the front window of the party office, burning some furniture and the interior of the building.

No one was hurt. The extent of the property damage is unknown; the executive director of the North Carolina GOP told the Charlotte News-Observer that the building is “a total loss.”

There currently isn’t any information about who firebombed the GOP office. The town of Hillsborough requests that anyone with information submit it as an anonymous crime tip, or contact the police officer investigating the crime.

There was, however, graffiti along the wall of a balloon store next door — reading “Nazi Republicans Leave Town Or Else” — that could be linked to the arson, and provide a clue as to the perpetrator’s motivations.

This is unacceptable

Regardless of who firebombed the office, and what their motive ultimately was, it’s an unacceptable attack on a political institution.

The 2016 election has already seen occasional flare-ups of violence, including Trump protesters getting punched at rallies and Trump supporters being pelted with objects at protests. In recent weeks, Donald Trump has urged his supporters to show up in force at polling places in “certain areas” (generally understood to be nonwhite neighborhoods), raising fears of Election Day violence.

And now, the firebombing of the Orange County GOP headquarters is likely to raise fears among Democrats and Republicans alike that they’ll be the targets of political violence.

Both parties recognize this as an aberration and a threat (except for Donald Trump)

Both parties have recognized the attack as a threat far beyond the physical damage done to the headquarters itself. The Democratic Party of North Carolina “strongly condemns” the attack, according to a statement put out Sunday; the chair of the state Republican Party, meanwhile, called it an act of “political terrorism.”

Hillary Clinton’s campaign called the attack “horrific and unacceptable” in a tweet Sunday — winning a gracious response from the state GOP twitter account.

That graciousness was conspicuously absent from the party’s current presidential nominee, who didn’t respond to the attack for over an hour after his opponent had condemned it — but, when he did, directly blamed her representatives for the attack.

Donald Trump has an ugly habit of responding to acts of violence by congratulating himself — whether it’s bragging for “being right on Islamic radical terrorism” after the Orlando nightclub shooting, or patting himself on the back for “winning” after this fire-bombing. At its best, it’s tone-deaf. In this case, though, it’s actively dangerous: Trump, unlike the Democratic and Republican parties and unlike Hillary Clinton, is not taking this opportunity to say that violent acts like this have no place in a democracy.