Arson Suspected at Golden Valley Offices of Conservative Think Tanks
A fire ripped through a Golden Valley office complex early Sunday morning, damaging the offices of several conservative organizations.
The building is located south of Interstate 394 and east of Highway 169. Tenants in the building believe their offices were targeted.
“I think there’s some disruption and some uneasiness about somebody who would want to do this to our building,” said Bill Walsh, director of marketing and communications for the Center of the American Experiment, a conservative think tank.
For Walsh, it’s been a week unlike any other.
“Well we got an email from our boss on Sunday saying that the building, that there was a fire in the building over the weekend, and that we would have our normal staff meeting on Monday morning by Zoom,” Walsh said.
Walsh says his office, along with two other conservative organizations — TakeCharge Minnesota on the first floor, and the Upper Midwest Law Center on the third floor — all sustained damage in a fire that occurred around 2 a.m. on Jan. 28.
The St. Paul Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is investigating it as a case of arson.
“You know, this is not random. It’s not,” Walsh said. “They didn’t hit the chiropractor or the counseling office or the accounting office. They hit these three conservative groups, these three public policy groups.”
ATF spokesperson, Ashlee Sherrill, said due to the ongoing investigation, she couldn’t confirm whether the affected businesses were targeted.
Sherrill said the Golden Valley Fire Department, the Hennepin County Fire Investigative Team, the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division and the FBI are all assisting with the investigation.
In the meantime, Walsh says if an arsonist was trying to send a message, his organization won’t be deterred.
“Nothing like this is going to slow us down,” Walsh said. “We’ll find office space here or somewhere else soon and get back to work in the office. But we’re not missing a beat. So if they’re trying to send a message, it’s not going to work.”