Democrats have raised over $13,000 (£10,700) to help repair a local Republican Party office in North Carolina after it was vandalised and set on fire.
A bottle filled with flammable liquid was thrown through the window of the Orange County Republican Party headquarters overnight, damaging the interior before burning out. The office was empty and no one was injured.
Also, someone spray-painted “Nazi Republicans leave town or else” on a nearby wall.
The funds were raised in 40 minutes, according to an update on the ‘Dems help reopen a NC Repub office’ GoFundMe page yesterday.
In an online post, the GoFundMe drive’s creator, David Weinberger – a researcher at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University – wrote: “Until an investigation is undertaken, we cannot know who did this or why. No matter the result, this is not how Americans resolve their differences.
“We talk, we argue, sometimes we march, and most of all we vote. We do not resort to violence by individuals or by mobs.
“Thank you all for showing that Americans are thirsty for civility and decency, and that we love our democracy above all our differences.”
The group shut down further contributions after surpassing their target, directing further donations to other charities in North Carolina.
“It’s a great gesture. We appreciate it a lot, but I don’t know how much of that we’re going to get to use because of the campaign laws,” Orange County GOP chairman Daniel Ashley said yesterday.
Ashley said he wasn’t aware of any previous threats against the office, several miles from the town’s historic square, and that he did not learn anything new from investigators.
Local police, state troopers and State Bureau of Investigation officers were at the scene, aiding the federal agencies involved.
The violent act in the key battleground state has been condemned by public figures across the political spectrum.
A tweet from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Sunday said the attack “is horrific and unacceptable. Very grateful that everyone is safe”.
An hour later, Trump tweeted: “Animals representing Hillary Clinton and Dems in North Carolina just firebombed our office in Orange County because we are winning.”
The North Carolina GOP tweeted thanks to both Clinton and Trump for their words of support.
In tweets of their own, North Carolina’s Republican governor Pat McCrory and his Democratic challenger, state Attorney General Roy Cooper both described the violence as a threat to democracy.
“I will use every resource as governor to assist local authorities in this investigation,” Mr McCrory added.
Cooper’s said “the culprits must be caught and brought to justice.”
The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was working with local investigators to solve the crime, which was discovered Sunday morning by another business owner.
Republican offices around the state are re-examining their security, state GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse said.
People sometimes work after-hours in the office, and the bottle appeared to have landed on or near the couch where volunteers sometimes take naps, he said.
“They are working around the clock. It is a miracle that nobody was killed,” he said in an interview, calling the fire an act of “political terrorism.”
At a news conference, Woodhouse urged Republicans to respond peacefully by turning out to vote in November.
He said he’d received messages of support from Democrats.