Black-owned newspaper known for hard-hitting journalism firebombed

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A black-owned weekly newspaper known for its investigations and battles with local officials was firebombed early Monday in an attack the publisher said reminded him of civil-rights era harassment.
Charles Tisdale said his office has been vandalized or bombed more than 20 times since he took over the 58-year-old Jackson Advocate in the late-1970s. He said an anonymous caller Friday night threatened to kill him.
“I’m not going to be intimidated,” said Tisdale, 67. “I thought, here we go again.”
The bombing left the newsroom a charred shell. Flames melted computers and destroyed cameras, books and art. The damage, mostly limited to the first floor, was estimated at $100,000.
Tisdale’s wife, Alice, carried soot-covered files from the brick, two-story building.
“It’s awful,” she said. “It’s like times past, but they’re back again. People are supposed to have moved past that.”
Investigators were testing wicks from two Molotov cocktails apparently tossed through the newspaper’s front window or door. The door was kicked in and gasoline may have been used to douse furniture and papers before the bombing, said Vernon Hughes, a fire investigator.
Finding a suspect may be difficult because of the wide array of possible motives, Hughes said.
Tisdale said authorities have ignored his reports of vandalism and drive-by shootings and he doesn’t expect them to pursue the bombers.
Stories in the Advocate have criticized a number of public officials, including Jackson’s new mayor, Harvey Johnson, and City Councilman Louis Armstrong.
“We always handle controversial subjects,” Tisdale said of his 7,400-circulation newspaper which has six full-time employees and about 20 part-time workers. “It’s hard to tell where attacks come from.”
Tisdale said the Advocate has never missed an edition and “will always be here.”