While no one was hurt in the explosion, knocking items off the walls and causing just minor damage to the sidewalk and the outside of the one-story building, NAACP and law enforcement officials say it could have been much worse because there was a gas can next to the incendiary device, clearly intended to cause maximum damage. But the gas didn’t explode.
More than the damage, the real impact of the explosion was about what it could possibly represent. At a moment when the nation’s racial climate is more intense than at any time in recent memory, was this crude bomb some attempt by a “balding white man” to hurt the nation’s oldest civil rights organization—and thus hurt a nation of Black people in the process?
“It has also not yet been determined if the motive was a hate crime, domestic terrorism, a personal act of violence against a specific individual, or other motive as there are numerous individuals and entities tied to the building in the vicinity of the explosion,” FBI spokesperson Amy Sanders told the Los Angeles Times.
For some reason, the LA Times and other papers refrained from reporting on the race of the balding suspect, about whom the FBI said in a statement, “He may be driving a 2000 or older model dirty, white pick-up truck with paneling, a dark colored bed liner, open tailgate, and a missing or covered license plate.”
But though the federal agents weren’t ready to call it a hate crime, Henry Allen, Jr., president of the NAACP’s local chapter, told reporters that the organization was targeted.
“Apparently, we’re doing something correct,” he told CBS News Tuesday. “Apparently, we have gotten someone’s attention that we are working toward civil rights for all. That is making some people uncomfortable.”
“We’ll move on,” Allen said in a separate newspaper interview. “This won’t deter us from doing the job we want to do in the community.”
The Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP is one of the largest chapters in Colorado and has been active in recent weeks, participating in local protests related to the deaths of unarmed Black men last year in Ferguson, Mo., and New York City.