The Austin bomber is a domestic terrorist. Period. We cannot allow elected officials, law enforcement agents, and the media to continue this false narrative that white men who commit acts of violence are out of the ordinary.
By accurately naming the packaged bombs as acts of domestic terrorism, it sets a precedent for how law enforcement should respond to bias violence in our country — which will ultimately force the general public to acknowledge the high rate of white supremacist violence and pressure government officials to provide the resources needed for prevention.
The morning of March 2nd, Anthony House picked up a package from his front porch that contained a detonated bomb–he became the first person killed in this act of terror.1 Seventeen-year-old Draylen Mason became the second victim on March 12th. Draylen brought a package into his kitchen and a detonated bomb went off, killing him and injuring his mother. Later that day, another explosion severely injured 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera.2 Chief Manley suspected that not only were the two lethal bombings connected but that the packages were placed on their doorsteps, which means this was deliberate. By the time the third explosion happened, this should have been flagged as an act of domestic terrorism. Police Chief Manley has a responsibility to classify these serial bombings as bias motivated violence.
There is an evil history of protecting white men who enact terror on people of color, especially Black people, in this country. Black folks have been finding bombs outside of their homes and churches, and experiencing violent domestic terror attacks since the moment we stepped foot on this continent. In 1998, Texan James Byrd Jr. was hog-tied to the back of a truck by three white supremacists and dragged to his death. The then-Texas Governor George W. Bush refused to take action.3 The tracking of hate crimes in Texas and in this country are unreliable, especially when the perpetrator is a white man.
Despite the uptick in hate crimes since Trump’s election, law enforcement officials in Texas continue to under-report racially motivated acts of violence.4 It’s time that electeds and law enforcement officials honor the laws that we’ve passed to protect us.
It’s frustrating to know that if the bomber was a person of color, they would have immediately been identified as a criminal or terrorist. Conditt is being depicted as someone who comes from a good family and an intellect who’s a little “rough around the edges”.5 This type of characterizing is harmful because it paints a serial killer as a “good ol boy” who otherwise is trustworthy. The truth is, Conditt is an American terrorist. There is no other way to explain detonated bombs being placed on the porches of people of color with the intentions to kill them.
To be clear – this is not about giving law enforcement agencies more authority and resources to surveil communities of color. It’s about bearing witness to the targeted violence marginalized communities often face and the forcing electeds and law enforcement to effectively identify and prevent these acts of hate.
Until justice is real,
1. “Austin Victims Remembered For Resilience, Radiating Positivity” NPR, 03-21-2018
2. “Austin Mourns: 17-year-old student killed by package bomb”, 03-13-2018
3.”Texas Senate Passes Hate Crime Bill That Bush’s Allies Kill”, 05-08-2001
4. “As hate crimes rise in US, experts believe many incidents not being reported”, 11-14-2017
5. “Austin bomber: Identity of suspect revealed as Mark Anthony Conditt”, 03-21-2018