Republicans in North Carolina have already doubled the reward for information about the still-unsolved firebombing of one of their offices in the Triangle during the height of the 2016 elections. Now, they also want one potential witness jailed.
The state government had already put out a $5,000 reward for information that led authorities to someone responsible for the attack on the GOP’s Hillsborough office, which made international news last October. And the N.C. GOP has offered to pitch in another $5,000 of its own money, bringing the potential reward to $10,000.
State party Chairman Robin Hayes sent out a reminder about the reward Thursday, on the heels of a potential setback in the investigation.
Katie Yow, a local anarchist and political activist, showed up to the federal courthouse in Greensboro Tuesday with several dozen supporters, then announced she would refuse to assist a grand jury looking into the alleged arson.
Hayes suggested throwing Yow in jail.
“It is inappropriate to discuss the actions of a Federal Grand Jury, and anybody who refuses to comply with a lawful subpoena in this case should be incarcerated until they do,” he said Thursday in a press release. “Terrorism against our political institutions can not stand.”
Jail time is one of several potential legal repercussions for such a refusal, although Yow said she won’t change her mind.
“I will never comply with this or any subpoena,” Yow said previously, in a written statement. “... I cannot begin to explain what defending the land and the people I call home means to me, but I want to express that my resistance to this grand jury comes from my fierce love for them.”
Waddy Davis, the head of the Orange County GOP, said in the release that Yow’s refusal to help “is giving aid and comfort to the political terrorists who committed these crimes.”
“This was not just an attack on Orange County, it was an attack on democracy,” Davis said.
It was also an attack that, just briefly, brought many on opposite sides of the political spectrum together during the election.
After the bombing, Democratic activists set up an online fundraiser for people to donate money to the GOP to cover the damages.
The fundraiser beat its goal in under an hour, eventually raising around $13,000.
Davis said the attack caused around $10,000 of damage to the building itself, plus the loss of around $5,000 worth of furniture and equipment.
Most of the damage came, authorities said, when someone threw a Molotov cocktail through a window of the building. Officials also found a spray-painted swastika and the phrase “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.”
It wasn’t the only act of political violence in North Carolina during the divisive election. At a Donald Trump rally in Fayetteville, a Trump supporter named John Franklin McGraw punched a protester as that protester was being led out by police.
At that same rally, Trump criticized protesters and told the crowd, “In the good old days, this doesn’t happen because they used to treat them very, very rough. And when they protested once, you know, they would not do it again so easily.”
McGraw wasn’t immediately arrested, and he later gave an interview admitting to the punch and saying, “The next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”
He eventually was charged with assault and disorderly conduct, entered a “no contest” plea in December and was sentenced to a year of probation.
Doran: 919-836-2858; Twitter: @will_doran