An investigation is underway after an individual attempted to set fire to the Travis County Democratic Party’s office early Wednesday morning. In addition to throwing a Molotov cocktail, the suspect also left a threatening note.
Surveillance cameras outside the office captured the suspect throwing a device into a window of the TCDP office. The Austin Police Department arrived on the scene around 2:30 a.m. Neighbors from a nearby building saw the fire and were able to douse the flames before the damage became widespread.
Katie Naranjo, the chairperson of the Travis County Democratic Party, spoke to Rachel Maddow on MSNBC about the frightening incident. Naranjo also spoke about the accompanying letter that came with the incendiary device that made it clear the attack was politically motivated.
Texas Signal spoke with Cynthia Van Maanen, the Executive Director of the Travis County Democratic Party about the ordeal and how the TCDP is responding. “The content of the note certainly implied there was a political motivation and that it was an attack on us because we work to elect Democrats,” said Van Maanen.
Van Maanen noted this wasn’t the first time the office had been attacked, though it was the first incident she could recall that involved arson. She also gave significant thanks to the neighbors that saw the flames and came to help, which likely stopped immense property damage.
The attempted arson at the TCDP occurred at a time of dangerous and escalating violence from rightwing agitators who have been showing up to municipal buildings or school board meetings to protest COVID-19 precautions like vaccines or masks. In Texas, permitless carry has also been in effect for over a month. And earlier this year there was the storming of the U.S. Capitol and an attempted insurrection.
For Van Maanen and her colleagues at the Travis County Democratic Party, their conviction remains stalwart. “Our goal remains unchanged,” said Van Maanen. “I would encourage folks who are working for the right to vote, the right for trans kids to participate in sports, the right for everybody in Texas to have control over their own reproductive choices, we can’t give up that fight.”
According to Van Maanen one Republican official reached out to their office to offer their sympathies. As of Friday morning, the Travis County Republican Party had not condemned the attack.
Photo: Travis County Democratic Party
A longtime writer and journalist, Jessica was thrilled to join the Texas Signal where she could utilize her unique perspective on politics and culture. As the Features and Opinion Editor, she is responsible for coordinating editorials and segments from diverse authors. She is also the host of the podcast the Tex Mix, as well as the co-host for the weekly SignalCast. Jessica attended Harvard College, is a onetime fitness blogger, and has now transitioned to recreational runner (for which her joints are thankful).