FBI agents and local law enforcement officials are seeking a middle-aged, balding white man this morning in connection with an explosion yesterday outside of the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in the country.
In a press statement, the FBI described the man as a “potential person of interest” who may have been driving “a 2000 or older model dirty, white pickup truck with paneling” and “a missing or covered license plate.”
An improvised explosive device (IED) was placed against the wall of the building on the 600 block of El Paso Street and exploded shortly before 11 a.m. Tuesday, according to The Gazette newspaper. There were two NAACP volunteers inside the office at the time of the explosion, which knocked items off the walls. No one was injured.
Gene Southerland, who owns Mr. G’s Hair Design Studio, which shares the building with the NAACP, told The Gazette that “neighbors came out and said they saw a Caucasian gentleman get into a white truck.”
“It was a beautiful day and everything, sunny,” Southerland added. “And in broad daylight, you hear this explosion. It’s frightening.”
The motive for the bombing is unknown at this time.
In a Tweet late Tuesday night, Cornell Brooks, the president of the NAACP, said, “Thankfully no one was hurt in a suspicious explosion at our Colorado Spring #NAACP office. We remain vigilant.”
There is good reason for the venerable civil rights organization to be vigilant. Here is a list of some earlier attacks on the NAACP:
1965: NAACP leader George Metcalfe is injured in Mississippi car bombing. He was trying to integrate the cafeteria of a local tire plant.
May 1981: Ten people are arrested, including Klan leaders from Maryland and Delaware, who were planning to bomb NAACP offices in Baltimore.
Summer 1989: Shots are fired into NAACP HQ in Baltimore.
August 1989: A tear gas mail bomb is sent to the Atlanta regional NAACP office. It goes off, injuring eight children who are patients of a pediatrician whose offices were located in the same building.
Dec. 18, 1989: Robert Robertson, chairman of the Legal Redress Committee of the Savannah, Ga., NAACP, is killed by a letter bomb in his Savannah office. The attack came two days after another mail bomb killed federal judge Robert Vance. Letter bombs were also sent to the federal courthouse in Atlanta and the Jacksonville, Fla., NAACP office, but were detected and defused. It turned out that the bomber was Walter Leroy Moody, whose main motive was resentment against the court system; his targeting of the NAACP is now believed to have been a diversion. After the killings, Moody sent a letter, signed by the Americans for a Competent Federal Judiciary, claiming they were in reprisal for the rape and murder of Julie Love, a young white woman in Atlanta, allegedly by two black men.,
July 20, 1993: Two neo-Nazis firebomb the NAACP office in Tacoma, Wash., damaging the building but causing no injuries. The main perpetrator, Mark Kowaalski, was a member of both the American Front racist skinhead gang and the neo-Nazi Church of the Creator.
Summer 1993: Arsonists attack the NAACP office in San Francisco.
Summer 1993: The Sacramento, Calif, NAACP office is firebombed.
Whatever the motive for the bombing in Colorado Springs, the NAACP chapter president, Henry Allen Jr., vowed to continue fighting for civil rights.
“We’ll move on,” Allen told The Gazette. “This won’t deter us from doing the job we want to do in the community.”