A county Republican headquarters in Hillsborough, N.C., was firebombed overnight Saturday, an attack that a party official called “political terrorism.”
Police said a bottle of flammable liquid was thrown through the front window of the office in Hillsborough, a town in Orange County near Raleigh.
“Nazi Republicans get out of town or else” was spray painted on the side of an adjacent building.
“This highly disturbing act goes far beyond vandalizing property; it willfully threatens our community’s safety via fire, and its hateful message undermines decency, respect and integrity in civic participation,” Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said in a statement. “Acts like this have no place in our community.”
Orange County, home to the University of North Carolina in nearby Chapel Hill, is overwhelmingly Democratic. Democrats and independents outnumber Republicans 5 to 1.
Hillsborough police and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were investigating.
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state Republican Party, called the bombing “political terrorism.”
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“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 occurred barely three weeks before an election marked by heightened tensions and passion on both sides.
Sunday, the Bangor, Maine, 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, N.C.
“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.”
N.C. Democratic Party Chair Patsy Keever called the bombing “outrageous.”
“I’m appalled that this would happen, certainly we don’t need violence for any reason,” she said. “Clearly this is outrageous that anybody would do this kind of destruction to either party’s buildings or people.”