Tags: black churches | Charleston shootings | church arson | Southern Poverty Law Center

Several Black Churches Set on Fire After Charleston Shootings

By    |   Monday, 29 Jun 2015 02:25 PM

During the one-week period when Americans were mourning the nine deaths at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, several predominantly black churches caught fire, with at least three of the cases being investigated as arson.

FBI spokesman Paul Bresson told BuzzFeed News that he's not sure "there is any reason to link them together at this point. The FBI, along with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is working with local officials in each of the communities to investigate the fires," he said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, said the fires "may not be a coincidence," as they occurred while public pressure increased to remove the Confederate flag from South Carolina's statehouse property and other public places, and while companies pulled back from selling the flag.

The first fire was on June 21, just a few days after the Charleston shootings, when hay bales were set on fire just outside the College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., causing minor damage and burning a church van, reports NBC affiliate WBIR in Knoxville.

On June 23, God's Power Church of Christ in Macon, Ga., caught fire, and when firefighters arrived, the front doors had been wired shut, a local newspaper, The Telegraph reported. That fire has been ruled as an arson, but police Sgt. Ben Gleaton said evidence is not showing that it was a hate crime.

On June 24, Charlotte's Briar Creek Road Baptist Church was set on fire, reports The Washington Post. The flames caused more than a quarter-million dollars worth of damage and destroyed the church's main building. According to Charlotte Fire Department Senior Investigator David Williams, the fire "was intentionally set."

The Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville, S.C. burned to the ground on June 26, and police said no cause for the fire was determined, reports The Associated Press.

The Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tenn., and the Greater Miracle Temple Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee caught fire last week as well, but authorities said they believe those fires were caused by lightning and electrical wires. They are still investigating.

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During the one-week period when Americans were mourning the nine deaths at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina, several predominantly black churches caught fire, with at least three of the cases being investigated as arson.
black churches, Charleston shootings, church arson, Southern Poverty Law Center
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2015-25-29
Monday, 29 Jun 2015 02:25 PM
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