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Enough is Enough: Congressional Black Caucus members demand action in response to Austin bombings

FBI in Austin investigates the most recent bombings (Courtesy of AP)

The Congressional Black Caucus has decided they want to see more action on the targeted racial bombings occurring in Austin, TX.

For starters, they’re demanding that the bombings be classified as “terrorist attacks” and are asking Austin officials to definitively determine whether they are “ideologically or racially motivated.”

The NY Postreports that despite the two most recent bombings in Austin seriously injuring two white men, the previous victims have included two deaths and two injuries belong to Black and Hispanic residents. Also, critically important is that the targeted bombings all occurred directly on their doorstep of people of color. Sunday’s victims reportedly set off a trip wire which then detonated a bomb.

In addition, early Tuesday morning, a blast detonated inside a FedEx facility in Schertz, Texas. The Schertz facility is located in a San Antonio suburb that is approximately an hour’s drive southwest of Austin.

One FedEx team member reportedly suffered minor injuries when a “single package exploded” at the ground sorting facility, company spokesman Jim McCluskey said in a statement. Based on preliminary information gathered at the scene, officials say there may be a connection with the four Austin explosions.

The Congressional Black Caucus wants to ensure that people of color know to be on high alert. They released a statement detailing their concerns.

“We cannot stand idly by while our communities are under attack,” reads a statement signed by<span class="m_5302709912350991110gmail-Apple-converted-space“> Chairman Cedric Richmond, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and Homeland Security Committee Ranking Democrat Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.

“The community impacted is now under virtual house arrest and the entire city is posed to be in a state of fear — which can easily transition into panic,” the statement continues. “This has become a national security issue and the full investigative force of the federal government must be focused on stopping these attacks.”

The letter ignores the President, but asks for solidarity within Congress, “insisting that Members of Congress be briefed on these heinous acts by the federal Bureau of Investigation before Congress adjourns on Thursday.”

They proceed to call on Homeland Security and Judiciary — committees that the signees also serve on — to join them in calling out domestic terrorism threats and to create solutions to counter the issue. 

“For too long we have focused only on certain sources of terrorism and violence while ignoring others,” it read.

Austin investigators have not been silent about the possible racially-motivated incidents, but they have also not yet classified the acts to be of terrorism.

“These bombings must be classified as ongoing terrorist attacks and should be investigated as such,” as stated in the Black Caucus statement. “Also, we need to understand if these attacks are ideologically or racially motivated.”

The Attacks

Anthony Stephan House, the first victim, was reportedly a family man and loving father to an eight-year-old daughter before his life was tragically cut short by a package bomb.

Esperanza Herrera, a 75-year-old Hispanic woman suffered potentially fatal injuries and was rushed to the hospital.

Police identified Draylen Mason as the 17-year-old that was killed in a second attack.

According to The Daily Mail, Mason was an aspiring musician. His grandfather Norman Mason was a renowned dentist with strong community ties. Mason’s grandmother LaVonne Mason broke ground as the co-founder of the Austin chapter of the National Urban League.

The Violin Channel reports that Mason was an honor roll bass student at the East Austin College Prep, where he studied with William Bill Dick. Mason was also a member of the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the Austin Youth Orchestra and the Austin Soundwaves.

Mason’s mother was reportedly also injured in the blast.

With the fourth bombing, residents of color are concerned that they are being targeted, yet officials remain reluctant to call these attacks hate crimes.

Austin police chief Brian Manley believes the incidents are linked to the prior bombing attacks which killed two people.

“It is very possible that this device was activated by someone either handling, kicking or coming in contact with a tripwire that activated the device,” said Chief Manly during a Monday morning press conference. “We are working under the belief that they are connected to the previous bombings.”

According to the New York Times, investigators from the F.B.I. and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the neighborhood known as Travis Country, which is in a different area from the three previous explosions

“We cannot rule out hate, but we’re not saying it’s hate,” Chief Manley said last week according to CNN.

“This moment cannot be something that divides us,” said Travis County Democratic Party Chairman Vincent Harding. “This cannot be a white issue or Black issue or an east issue or west issue. This must be a human issue, this must an Austin issue for all of us.”

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