GASTON COUNTY, N.C. -- After a North Carolina Republican office was firebombed Saturday, GOP offices across the state say they’re now on heightened alert, but aren’t afraid.
“The only thing we’re afraid of is Hillary Clinton becoming president,” said Pat Smith with the Gaston County GOP Headquarters.
Smith’s sentiment was shared by other campaign headquarters as well, who say they’ve always had safety practices in place, such as hiring local law enforcement to be present at events and never wanting campaign volunteers to be at the offices by themselves.
“It’s just more of an awareness and personal awareness now,” said Smith.
In Charlotte, Mecklenburg County GOP Republican Party Chair Claire Mahoney said their office was already on heightened security because of the riots that occurred weeks ago. She says since the firebombing they’ve been in touch with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police but said that campaign events will continue as normal.
“Nothing will stop, the door knocking will still continue, the boots on the ground will not stop,” said Mahoney.
Officials say someone threw a bottle filled with flammable liquid through the window of the Hillsborough Republican Headquarters in Orange County, North Carolina, Saturday night. Luckily no one was inside, but as the sun came up Sunday, the damage was clear.
The Associated Press reported that the walls of the multi-room office were covered in black char and a couch was burned down to its springs. They said shattered glass covered the floor and melted campaign yard signs showed warped lettering.
Also found at the scene, a swastika and the words “Nazi Republicans get out of town or else” spray painted on the side of the building.
Hillary Clinton tweeting that she was thankful no one was hurt in the attack.
The attack on the Orange County HQ @NCGOP office is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe.— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) October 16, 2016
But presidential candidate Donald Trump responded with a different tone, tweeting:
Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina just firebombed our office in Orange County because we are winning @NCGOP— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 16, 2016
J. Michael Bitzer, who’s a political analyst and political science professor at Catawba College, says it’s that kind of anger that may have fueled the fire.
“The rhetoric has just been so heated and so escalated on both sides that unfortunately this kind of violent rhetoric leads to violent action,” said Bitzer.
After the attack, a group of democrats started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the GOP office’s repairs. According to the organizer, the page raised its $10,000 goal in just 40 minutes.
“For some folks, they’re recognizing that yes, you can have your political differences, but when it comes to issues like attacks on facilities, that we’re all North Carolinians and that ultimately were all Americans,” said Bitzer.