Everything we know about the attempted bombing
Plus some historical context, other similar events, and leaders' (lack of) reaction.
Hey y’all, just finished up the second part of our discussion with Ben Stuckart.
It’s a doozy and I’m proud of it, but it’s been a long day, so I’ll keep this update brief.
Bomb threats are back
Since the day before thanksgiving — barely two weeks — the Spokane area has experienced two serious bomb threats against progressive organizations: Planned Parenthood and now the Spokane County Democrats. Details are skant and no one was hurt, though one volunteer appeared pretty shaken when interviewed.
A backpack and a manifesto
This morning a man walked into the Spokane County Democrat’s office — which is in the Teamsters building on N. Ruby — carrying a backback with wires sticking out and a single sheet of paper.
He told a volunteer he had a bomb and asked her to read the manifesto. She told KHQ she wasn’t able to focus because of how shaken up she was, and when the man asked her if there was anyone else in the office, she didn’t say anything. He briefly held her against her will.
I haven’t seen any reports on the contents of the manifesto, though the volunteer mentioned she remembered vaguely reading words like “Democrat” and “Republican.”
Shortly thereafter, the man set a fire in the office.
Most news outlets haven’t reported on whether the backpack actually contained a bomb, though KXLY is reporting that Police told them it was not a bomb.
In the evening, that volunteer posted a note of gratitude but also rage about the state of partisan polarization in America:
A bomb threat, a fire and a "manifesto" (Inlander)
The background radiation of extremism
This event comes on the heels of a conversation RANGE had barely a month ago with had extremism researcher Kate Bitz of Western States Center, about what to expect from the far right in the months after election day.
Terrifyingly, she predicted threats of mass violence against Planned Parenthood, political parties and City Hall.
Why? Because it has all happened before — in our area. It’s a chilling episode. Check it out if you havent already.
The threat at Planned Parenthood
Though the bomb threat just over two weeks ago was phoned in to 911, the two locations are very close together and both are obviously tied to local progressive politics. Local Planned Parenthood Vice President of Public Affairs Paul Dillon told the Spokesman, “Over the last couple years, we have seen an escalation in rhetoric against Planned Parenthood and abortion providers. That fuels violent acts and we’ve seen that firsthand at Planned Parenthood so we take these threats very, very seriously.”
Leaders response … tepid
The state Democratic party came out with a condemnation of the events somewhat quickly, but other leaders took a weirdly long time.
At aroudn 4 pm — 5 hours after the standoff — former Council President Ben Stuckart issued a scathing rebuke to leaders of both parties on Facebook:
Shortly thereafter, current City Council President Breean Beggs published a statement condemning, “anyone who uses fear and violence to accomplish a political goal.”
It wasn’t until the evening that Cathy McMorris Rodgers said, “no one should be targeted with violence because of their political beliefs.”
One leader just didn’t say anything at all. Care to guess who?
State Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig, who represents much of Spokane, also condemned leaders’ slowness to respond:
LUKE WARM TAKE
Call me old fashioned but, in the face of any political violence — even the threat of it! — leaders should have a moral clarity and just baseline humanity to stand up and say, “this is wrong and must stop.”
That didn’t happen today.
And so, as we reflect on Kate Bitz’ chronicle of historic extremism in our city and how the situation is similar to then and how it’s different, we really have to chalk that up in the “different” column, right?
We can no longer assume that members of the political elite in this town will stand up forcefully and say political violence is morally and spiritually wrong, and undermines people’s feelings of safety and undermines our most fundamentally — and I used to think, universally — held believe that people should be able to speak their mind, advocate for the causes they’re passionate about, and generally live their lives without fear.
Wednesday our mayor had an opportunity to join the rest of us in forcefully re-asserting those universal, fundamental values
and she was like, “nah.”
That should scare the hell out of all of us.
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Have a good day everyone.