The Orange County Republican Party office in Hillsborough, N.C., was firebombed on early Sunday morning by what appears to be a molotov cocktail thrown through the building’s front window, causing extensive damage to the carpeting and furniture.
The incident was reported by a neighboring business owner who called 911 sometime after 9 a.m., Sunday, telling the emergency operator that his building had also been vandalized with a spray painted message that read, “Nazi Republicans leave town or else,” along with a swastika.
Following widely circulated media reports of what North Carolina Republican Party executive director Dallas Woodhouse called “political terrorism,” University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sociology associate professor Zeynep Tufekci suggested on Twitter that, “The Clinton campaign should let the GOP take over one of its offices so no time is lost for them.”
Tufekci’s tweet started an online conversation that was eventually picked up by Harvard University’s David Weinberger, along with professors from Arizona State and New York University and Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, who collaborated to start a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for building repairs.
In under an hour’s time, Weinberger’s page raised $13,007 to help the Hillsborough Republicans get back to work in their familiar confines in a timely fashion.
“I think that the enthusiasm with which this proposal was met is evidence that people recognize the growing threat to our basic democratic process,” said Weinberger. “This election season seems to be normalizing political violence. Not firebombing . . . But bullying, name calling, intimidating, threatening lawsuits, threatening the legitimacy of the election process itself, all of these prevent democracy from functioning as it should.”
Funds raised by the group of mainly liberal professors must now be transferred to recipients legally, a process that is arguably overcomplicated with strict campaign finance laws.
“(The money) is currently in stasis,” said chairman of the Orange County Board of Commissioner, Earl McKee. “It is simply sitting there waiting for the decision as to how it can be used . . . I think (local GOP officials), like I and like Mr. Weinberger are concerned that whatever is done adheres strictly to protocol and law.”
Since 2008, North Carolina has been considered a swing-state in presidential elections. Hillsborough, N.C., is located approximately 40 miles northwest of the state capitol in Raleigh, at the eastern edge of the Research Triangle, a largely affluent suburban area that is considered politically moderate and can turn the state for either Democrats or Republicans on Election Day.
Currently, Hillary Clinton has a slim 2.7 point lead over Donald Trump state-wide in an average of the latest polls, 46 to 43.3 percent, with Libertarian Gary Johnson garnering just under six percent of voter support.
[Reuters] [Time] [RealClear Politics] [Photo courtesy North Carolina Republican Party/Twitter via nymag.com]