Slate Writer Apologizes for Asserting Austin Bomber Was White Supremacist

Law enforcement personnel investigate the home where Austin serial bomber Mark Anthony Conditt lived in Pflugerville, Texas, March 22, 2018. (Loren Elliott/Reuters)

Jamelle Bouie, the chief political correspondent for Slate, suggested in a Monday tweet that the individual responsible for the scourge of bombings in Austin, Texas was a “white supremacist,” hours after two white men were injured in one of the explosions.

The alleged bomber, 23-year-old Mark Anthony Conditt, blew himself up Wednesday morning as police closed in on his vehicle. He is thought to have been responsible for five bombings in or near Austin.

The first explosion occurred on March 2 and resulted in the death of Anthony Stephan House, a 39-year-old African-American man. The explosive was placed inside a package that was delivered to House’s East Austin home and detonated on his front porch. Ten days later, two more explosions rocked the Texas capital, one killing Draylen Mason, a 17-year-old African-American boy, and one injuring an unnamed 75-year-old Hispanic woman. On March 18, around eleven hours before Bouie’s tweet, a fourth explosion occurred on the side of the road in the upscale Travis County neighborhood of Southwest Austin, injuring two white men. The fifth and final explosion injured a Fedex employee at a conveyor belt center roughly an hour drive outside Austin.

Conditt described his grievances with society and went into great detail explaining the bomb-making process in a 25-minute confession tape found by the police, but did not provide a clear motive. “It is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his life that led him to this point,” Austin police chief Brian Manley said of the video. “I know everybody is interested in a motive and understanding why. And we’re never going to be able to put a (rationale) behind these acts.”

In a statement provided to National Review, Bouie conceded that he had been too quick to assign a motive to the bomber

“The initial targets of the Austin bomber were connected to a prominent black religious leader in the area and were, themselves, black,” Bouie wrote. “Given that similarity to attacks on people of color in the past year, I thought it suggested an ideological motive. I was wrong, and plan to be more careful about jumping to those conclusions in the future.”

Freddie Dixon, a former pastor at a historic church in Austin and a prominent civil-rights leader, was House’s stepfather and a friend of Mason’s grandfather.

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