Federal and local agencies are investigating a fire that broke out early Sunday morning in an office building in Golden Valley that houses three of the state’s most prominent conservative organizations.
Ashlee Sherrill, public information officer for the St. Paul Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), did not provide details or indicate who, or if anyone, was targeted but confirmed the investigation is moving forward as an “arson investigation.”
John Hinderaker, president of the Center of the American Experiment (CAE), said based on the location of the fires in the building, it appears that someone targeted conservative groups.
“The fires were obviously set by someone. They targeted conservative organizations. They didn’t firebomb the chiropractors or psychologists or Manufacturers Alliance. We are working with authorities to try to identify the perpetrators,” Hinderaker said.
The Golden Valley Fire Department responded to a fire at 8421 Wayzata Blvd. shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday morning, according to the fire department.
The nonprofits TakeCharge, CAE, and the Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC) all rent office space in the building. CAE and TakeCharge are located on the first floor. UMLC is on the third floor. All three organizations advocate for conservative causes across the state and each reported extensive damage.
Sherrill said the investigation is a team effort. The FBI, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the Hennepin County Fire Investigation team, and the Minnesota State Fire Marshal Division are all investigating the incident.
The building has been deemed uninhabitable and will take months to repair.
TakeCharge, CAE, and UMLC released statements saying the incident will have no impact on their operations. All building residents are working remotely.
Kendall Qualls, president of TakeCharge, said the incident will neither slow them down nor silence them.
“Attempts to silence us won’t work,” he said. “We’re promoting the bold truth that the crisis in the black community is not due to racism but to fatherless homes. This act emboldens us to be stronger and louder.”
Other great businesses housed in the office building are suffering terrible losses because of this “heinous act,” James Dickey with UMLC said.
“It’s deeply troubling that we may have been a target of arson — an act of domestic terrorism — because of the work we do on behalf of the people of Minnesota and the Upper Midwest,” Dickey said. “We hope that the authorities will bring those responsible to justice, and we will do everything we can to help those efforts.
“Most importantly, we’re grateful that our team is safe and, to our knowledge, nobody was harmed in the fire. It’s very sad to see the extensive damage to our office suite and also to Center of the American Experiment and TakeCharge,” Dickey said.
He said the firm’s client files are backed up and held in a safe location.
UMLC pursues “pro-freedom litigation safeguarding against government overreach, left-wing special interest agendas, constitutional violations, and public union corruption,” according to the organization’s website.
CAE is a Minnesota-based think tank that provides research on issues that affect Minnesota families such as the economy, education, and health care.
TakeCharge counters the narrative of systemic racism and educates communities on the dangers of DEI.