The topic of Confederate statues and whether or not they are appropriate additions to social epicenters in many Southern cities has been a hot button issue in the wake of the chaos that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia. There are those who believe that these statues are offensive, particularly for African Americans who say these statues represent their oppression within this country. Then there are those who say that while these statues represent a particularly dark time in US history, they’re important because they are a reminder of how far we have come as a society and can act as a teaching tool so that future generations do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Of course, there is also a small minority of people who want to preserve the statues, not for educational reasons but for hateful ones.
It is this small minority who seem to be at the forefront of the debate over the statues and as we saw in Charlottesville, a group who is willing to kill those who stand against hateful rhetoric. In response, some have taken matters into their own hands. Rather than going through the red tape of having the statues moved to places most would find appropriate, such as history museums and other places of historical importance, they have decided to go the vigilante route of destroying the statues themselves.
After the riots in Charlottesville, hundreds of individuals have turned themselves over to police as a show of solidarity for a group who destroyed a Confederate statue in North Carolina. While this group did not believe destroying the statue was morally wrong, in the eyes of the law, they were destroying public property. After witnessing these events take place live on television, some have been inspired to attempt to do the same.
Andrew Schneck is just one example of someone who had been inspired by these recent events to take matters into his own hands. While some may argue that his heart was in the right place, most would agree that if his actions would have unfolded as planned there could have been dangerous unintended consequences.
On August 19, 2017, a park ranger spotted Andrew Schneck hiding in some bushes in Houston’s Hermann Park near a statue of Dick Dowling. Dowling is considered a Civil War hero for the Confederacy in Houston and the city receives public funds to upkeep the statue that is part of the national debate on whether or not these statues should be maintained in public spaces.
The park ranger spoke with Schneck and noticed the 25-year-old had also been in the possession of two boxes, one of which appeared to contain wires and duct tape. When asked about the boxes, Schneck proceeded to take a clear plastic bottle out of one of them and attempted to drink the contents. Schneck immediately spat this liquid onto the ground and poured out the rest of the bottle. After testing the liquid, FBI officials have stated that they believe this liquid was nitroglycerine.
Also found within the boxes were other bomb making materials, including a timer and a white powder that was believed to be hexamethylene triperoxide diamine (HMTD).
This isn’t the first time Schneck has been accused of attempting to build bombs. In 2013, Schneck’s parent’s house was raided after authorities got word that Schneck had been ordering materials in order to create tear and nerve gases, as well as military grade explosives. He was ordered to five years probation after a judge found him guilty of storing explosive materials. He was recently let off of his probation early after it was determined that Schneck was no longer a threat to society.
Schneck is currently facing up to 40 years in prison if convicted for attempting to maliciously damage property receiving federal financial assistance.