Trump silent as bomber terrorizes black families in Austin, Texas

Photo: Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images

More than two weeks into a bombing spree targeting people of color in Texas, there has been no statement from President Trump or the White House

Two residents of Austin, Texas have been killed and at least four people have been injured in a series of four bombings that have terrorized the Texas capital since March 2. Two of the injuries occurred last night when a bomb went off in a residential neighborhood, possibly using a tripwire mechanism according to police.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has spent the morning following the latest blast live-tweeting Fox and Friends.

The president’s lack of concern about the incidents is not limited to this morning. Since the first bombing on March 2, President Trump has not mentioned the incidents on his Twitter feed, at rallies or public appearances, or in comments to the press. The White House has not issued any statements and the subject has not been discussed at any White House press briefing since the spree began.

The weeks-long silence is somewhat surprising given that Trump has previously been criticized for being too quick to respond or jump to conclusions about other terrorist attacks.

His early-morning tweets regarding the September bombing in the London Underground led British Prime Minister Theresa May to say it is “never helpful for anyone to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation.”

The next month, an apparent terrorist attack in New York City led Trump to Twitter to promote his “Extreme Vetting Program” just hours after the attack which killed eight people.

The silence from Trump and the White House on the bombing spree in Austin is especially alarming given that the serial bomber appears to be targeting African-Americans — and doing so with increasing sophistication.

The first attack on March 2 killed 39-year-old Stephen House, the black owner of a money-management firm, at the doorstep of his own home when he found a bomb disguised as a package. House helped design the Austin NAACP website and his stepfather Freddie Dixon was a pastor at Wesley Methodist Church, a historic black church founded by freed slaves in 1865.

Dixon is close friends with the grandparents of Draylen Mason, a 17-year-old musician who was killed in a second a bombing after a package exploded in his kitchen, wounding his mother.

Hours later a third bomb went off when 75-year-old Esperanza Herrera picked up a package that authorities and residents suspect was meant for somebody else.

“The intended target was another person who might be connected to the House and Mason families,” said Nelson Linder, president of the Austin NAACP.

Following the first three incidents, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley warned residents to be cautious.

“What we do know is that the individual or individuals involved in this, these suspects, they do have a certain level of skill to be able to construct a device like this and then deliver that device to your target without having it explode, either during construction, or during delivery, does take a certain level of sophistication,” Manley said.

That was five days ago.

The latest bomb, which injured two men in southwest Austin who were biking or walking their bicycles, appears to have been a different style of device, according to police.

“We’re not believing that this was similar to previous ones, as in packages left on doorsteps. But instead this was some type of suspicious package that was left on the side of the road, that detonated and injured these two men,” Manley said at a press briefing Sunday night.
Police believe this device was triggered by a tripwire, indicating a bomb-maker with a diverse range of skills.
This morning, police issued a new warning to the community.
“We now need the community to have extra level of vigilance and pay attention to any suspicious device — whether it be a package or a bag, a backpack — anything that looks out of place. And do not approach items like that,” Manley said.
He also confirmed fears that police suspect the bomber is trying to send a “message” to the community being targeted.

Despite the latest developments, the White House is still silent. All indications are that the president is more concerned with maintaining palace intrigue around rumored staff shakeups and firings than he is with an apparent terrorist targeting Austin’s black community.

CNN is covering the Austin bombings, but it's easy to miss amid the sea of Trump-related headlines.

CNN is covering the Austin bombings, but it’s easy to miss amid the sea of Trump-related headlines.

But it’s not just the president who deserves blame here — it’s the media too.

The first three attacks barely registered in the national media. Last night’s bombing is finally getting some more significant airplay, but it still exists only in the shadow of a chaotic presidency consuming the attention of the media and the country.

The story has been relegated to a footnote on the front-page of today’s New York Times and Washington Post. CNN.com also lists it as a secondary top story, visibly overshadowed by the latest drama over Trump’s tweets targeting Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

And while it is true that the White House has failed to address the bombings in any of its press briefings since the attacks began more than two weeks ago, the press is partly responsible for the lack of response.

Zero questions related to the Austin attacks have been posed to White House officials during daily press briefings since the attacks, according to transcripts.

It is difficult to imagine this story getting this kind of treatment from the president, his administration, or the press if the victims had all been white Christians or the perpetrator of these bombings was believed to be a Muslim.

 

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