Emily Shugerman, Independent, August 21, 2017
A 25-year-old man has been arrested in Houston for allegedly attempting to plant a bomb near a local Confederate monument.
The Houston FBI announced on Monday that they had arrested Andrew Schneck in connection with an incident in front of the General Richard Dowling Monument in Hermann Park two days before.
Mr Schneck is believed to have been carrying items capable of producing a viable explosive device. He has been charged with attempting to maliciously damage or destroy property.
Officials say a Houston park ranger caught Mr Schneck kneeling near the statue of the Confederate general on Saturday. Prosecutors claim he was carrying two boxes with duct tape and wires, and a bottle with liquid that could be used to make explosives.
Officials conducted a raid on a Houston home on Sunday, bringing in tools often used to handle homemade bombs. In a press conference on Monday, police confirmed they were attempting to recover “significant hazardous materials”.
Sources told local news station KPRC2 that authorities had searched the same house four years before, looking for materials that could be used to make nerve gas or tear gas. Less than a year later, Mr Shneck, who lived in the house with his parents, was convicted for improper storage of explosive material. He was sentenced to five years of probation and a $159,000 fine.
Confederate statues have become a flash point in the US, after white supremacists held a rally in Virginia to protest their removal. Confederates fought in the US Civil War in order to preserve the practise of slavery.
The University of Texas removed four such statues from its Austin campus on Monday, after the university president declared them “symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism”.
In Durham, North Carolina, protesters took matters into their own hands and tore down a Confederate statue themselves.
“I chose to [pull down the statue] because I am tired of living in fear,” one Durham protester, who is black, told reporters. “I am tired of white supremacy keeping its foot on my neck and the neck of people who look like me.”
President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has condemned the removal of the statues, deeming it “so foolish”.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” Mr Trump tweeted last week. “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it.”