Today marks two weeks since a bomb went off outside the building that houses the NAACP offices in Colorado Springs, and while a suspect's sketch was released days later, no arrests have been made. To emphasize the need for progress in the case, NAACP President Cornell William Brooks, who's been a prominent figure in protests related to the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, is traveling to the Springs for what a local rep believes is an unprecedented visit. Photos, video and details below.
See also: Marijuana: NAACP Backs Bill Calling for Feds to Respect States' Pot Rights, published November 2013
Tuesday morning, January 6, an improvised device detonated against the exterior wall of a building in Colorado Springs that houses the local NAACP offices and another business, Mr. G's Hair Design Studio, according to a joint release from El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder, Fountain Police Chief Todd Evans, President Henry Allen Jr. of the Colorado Springs NAACP and Colorado Springs Police Chief Peter Carey:
No note or message was left confirming that the NAACP office was the target of the blast, and no one was hurt. However, the release stressed that "the investigation into this criminal act is a high priority and is being conducted as a joint effort with local and federal law enforcement resources," including the FBI, which released a sketch of a possible suspect/person of interest in the case:
Rosemary Lytle, president of the NAACP Colorado Montana Wyoming State Conference, notes the sketch's "lack of specificity" and hints that the organization may have more to say about it in the coming days.
As for whether the NAACP was the target of the bombing, Lytle offers some interesting indications: "The branch president reported some threats to him personally, and at least one person showed up at the branch with a complaint about police interactions. Those threats came out after the bombing happened -- and it's our belief that the police are looking at one other person who came to the office to complain about the lack of engagement with police. But it was very unclear to us how they were going to move forward to identify this person, and we're asking questions calling for greater clarity."
In the meantime, Lytle sees the decision of Brooks to visit Colorado Springs for three days' worth of events, spanning January 23-25, as evidence that the national organization isn't going to let what happened quietly fade away.
"I don't think a sitting NAACP president has visited Colorado at any time in our history in the state," Lytle says. "So it's an honor even in difficult times, with this investigation still ongoing. But there are still so many questions that need answered."
Lytle acknowledges that "the FBI presence would say that they have taken this in the most serious way -- with the seriousness that it deserves. But while we might be satisfied with their efforts to date, those efforts must yield a suspect. Someone must be held accountable for this egregious act, especially at this time in our civil rights work, where we're battling so many significant issues."
Brooks will have a full schedule once he arrives in Colorado Springs on the 23rd. "There will be a welcome reception for President Brooks and other members of the national staff at 8 p.m. on Friday at the Mining Exchange Hotel, 8 South Nevada in Colorado Springs," Lytle points out. "Then, on Saturday, we will have our regularly scheduled state conference meeting, which will include a unity-and-solidarity luncheon at Colorado College at which President Brooks will be the speaker. And on Sunday, he will be preaching at 11 a.m. at the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Fountain."
Interested parties who'd like to attend the Friday reception and Saturday conference must RSVP to stateconference.secretary@ gmail.com. (There's a $10 charge for the luncheon on Saturday, with the cost payable at the door.) For more details, visit the NAACP Colorado Wyoming Montana State Conference Facebook page.
"At this time, we're all troubled by criminal injustice and police brutality wherever it's found -- and we know that it's found in Colorado," Lytle adds. "The coming of this president, who's worked on the national Black Lives Matter campaign and the Hands Up Don't Shoot coalition, and who walked from Michael Brown's house to the Missouri governor's mansion to ask that the governor appoint a special prosecutor in the case, shows that what happened in Colorado Springs couldn't be more relevant. Whether you're in Ferguson or Green Valley Ranch, these issues matter."
Look below to see a 7News report broadcast in the days following the bombing, plus two videos featuring Brooks talking about the situation in Ferguson.
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.