A Texas man made his initial court appearance on Monday after authorities arrested him over the weekend for allegedly trying to plant an explosive device on a Confederate statue in Houston, ABC News reports.
Federal officials charged Andrew Schneck, 25, with attempting to maliciously damage or destroy property receiving federal financial assistance.
On Saturday, a park ranger allegedly caught Schneck holding, what appeared to be, material to make an explosive device, in Houston’s Hermann Park, near a statue of Confederate soldier Richard Dowling.
The Houston police bomb squad said he was carrying chemicals and a detonator that “were capable to produce a viable explosive device.”
Schneck, who has an undergraduate degree in chemistry, is no stranger to local authorities. The police arrested him in 2014 for improperly storing explosive materials in his Houston home.
A federal judge placed Schneck on five years of probation after he pleaded not guilty. However, in November the court terminated his sentence early.
Court documents said that Schneck admitted to the park ranger that he wanted to destroy the statue because he didn’t like Dowling.
According to ABC News, Dowling was a Houston saloon owner who served as a lieutenant in the Confederate army. His troops repelled a Union army invasion at the Battle of Sabine Pass.
While the nation debates the future of Confederate monuments, Houston’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, said the city is grappling with what action—if any—it should take with it Confederate statues.
In the meantime, Turner, who is Black, pleads for calm, according to the Associated Press.
“I understand everybody has a First Amendment right,” he said. “But you do not have a First Amendment Right to deface any of the public art, any of the statues, the monuments that exist in this city.”
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