Austin police chief Brian Manley believes the package bombings that rattled the city for three weeks in March amount to domestic terrorism because of what the suspect “did to our community.”
“He was a domestic terrorist for what he did to us,” Manley, the interim chief of police, said during a panel discussion Thursday, the Austin American Statesman reports.
“I was so focused that we put a stop to it,” Manley said of the bombing investigation, adding that he is now “comfortable” calling 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt a domestic terrorist. “Knowing that it might end up in the legal system at some point, I was being very specific on legal definition that exist under fed law,” Manley said.
Conditt died from a self-detonated explosion after he attempted to flee police in a car March 21. Investigators found a 25-minute videotape Conditt had made in which he confessed to planting five bombs around Austin, according to police, who until Thursday had not referred to the bombings as terrorism.
“I’ve now had the opportunity to sit back and understand and absorb all of the impact that it had on a personal level,” Manley said. “I’m very comfortable saying that to our community and what he did to us, he was a domestic terrorist.”
Two people killed in the bombings were black and one of the four injured was Latino, but police say Conditt’s recording does not imply that was motivated by racism or hatred. Manley said Tuesday he had avoided calling Conditt a terrorist because the FBI’s definition requires that terrorism has an ideological motive.
“He does not at all mention anything about terrorism, nor does he mention anything about hate,” Manley said last week. “But, instead, it is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point.”
“Our white brothers and sisters are going to have to learn how to be comfortable while being uncomfortable talking about race,” Chas Moore, leader of the Austin Justice Coalition, said in response to Manley’s comments Thursday.
Moore suggested that because Conditt was white, the media treated him differently. “The way the media covered this story, this ‘troubled young man.’ Was the young man troubled? Absolutely. But he was a troubled young man that turned out to be a terrorist,” Moore said.
“Because he was white, we gave him the benefit of being a human first,” Moore said.
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