The disturbing trend of acts of violence against churches which are predominantly visited by blacks or African-Americans has continued. It has been reported that fire broke out at the Mt. Zion AME Church in Greeleyville, South Carolina, on Tuesday, June 30. Close to 50 firefighters were needed to extinguish the blaze that burnt the black church to the ground. No information has been revealed yet about the cause of the incident by Randy Swinton, Fire Chief for Williamsburg County. The same church was previously torched by members of the KKK in 1995.
The incidents began on June 21 in Knoxville, Tennessee, when the College Hill Seventh Day Adventist was burned when some miscreants set fire to some hay bales outside the church. The black church sustained minor damages while a church van was burned. Captain D.J. Corcoran from Knoxville Fire Department informed that the fire incident was ruled as arson and not hate crime.
Following the heinous attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, it has been reported that six black churches have been torched across the states of Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia in the last seven days since the massacre. Before talking about the incidents involving four predominantly black churches getting destroyed by instances of arson or otherwise, it must be clarified that this article does not question the investigations of these incidents being presently conducted by various law enforcement agencies, including the FBI. The report does not advocate or try to instigate violence on the part of people from any ethnic group living in the United States. Violence in the U.S. homeland has increased over the years and racial tensions are at an all-time high. Instances of churches being torched which are predominantly visited by Blacks or African-Americans are not new, and one can find traces of such spurts of violence in various history books.
On June 23, 2015 a fire broke out at a black church named God’s Power Church of Christ, which is located in Macon, Georgia. The authorities have ruled this incident as arson and have stated that there was no evidence that it was a hate crime. Media reports suggest that when the authorities arrived, they saw that a side door of the church was open, while the front doors were locked. As is the case with church fires, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives was called. Authorities noted that the air conditioning and other electronic equipment had been stolen from the church. For anybody who could provide information which may lead to the police arresting the arsonist, a reward of $10,000 has been declared through the Georgia Arson Hotline.
Fire Sergeant Ben Gleaton of Macon-Bibb County, informed local newspapers that evidence has been found by the investigating team of officers to rule that the fire had been deliberately set. He reports that the investigation of the fire incident at God’s Power Church of Christ is still ongoing, and more proof would be required to determine if this was a hate crime. Gleaton also said that there was no physical evidence that would suggest that the fire at the black church was a hate crime. The case was ruled as arson just one day after the authorities in North Carolina said that the predominantly black church in Charlotte was torched intentionally on June 24.
The fires occurred within seven days following the 21-year-old gunman Dylann Roof’s attack on a renowned black church in the city of Charleston, South Carolina. Roof was reportedly looking to instigate a race war across the United States and was possibly a lone wolf attacker. He developed a hatred towards the African-American people living in the U.S. and became self-radicalized after watching videos of racist and white supremacist groups like the KKK who indoctrinate young, impressionable, and lonely young men to commit such heinous acts of crime.
In Charlotte, NC, police say that the fire which broke out on June 24, 2015, at Briar Creek Baptist Church, was the result of arson. The incident is under investigation and the hate crime angle is being reviewed. It was reported that close to 75 firefighters were required to put out the fire which was categorized as three-alarm. The blaze was brought under control approximately one hour after it broke out. Two firefighters suffered from heat-related injuries while trying to extinguish the fire and required immediate medical treatment. Damages worth $250,000 were sustained by the church and a space used for children’s summer camp was significantly damaged. Apart from that, a ceiling has collapsed in the church while the gymnasium and the sanctuary were spared, barring some smoke damage.
Friday, June 26, 2015, saw a fire incident in the early hours, which destroyed yet another predominantly black church in Tallahassee, Florida. Firefighters acted on a report of a blaze at Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church around 5:20 a.m. The church is located near the crossing of Campbell and Wakulla Street. Powerlines were down in the area and no person was reported to have been inside the church when the fire broke out. It was also reported that the interior of the church has been completely devastated.
In the fourth such incident of the last seven days since the Charleston massacre, fire broke out at the Glover Grove Baptist Church in Aiken County, South Carolina, in the early hours of June 26, 2015. Firefighters from Midland Valley arrived after the fire was reported around 3:30 a.m. The church is located on Project Road in Warrenville. By the time the team of firefighters arrived, the church was completely engulfed by flames. It took one hour to bring the fire under control. The FBI was called in to investigate the incident that destroyed the church.
The sheriff’s office has released a statement to local media indicating that investigating teams from the FBI, and the South Carolina Highway Patrol, including forensic investigators, are presently collecting evidence to evaluate how the fire was started.
The Guardian Liberty Voice news service will update reports about the torching of these four churches as soon as more information becomes available.
By Ankur Sinha
Edited by Christine Houston and DiMarkco Chandler
The Washington Post-Five predominantly black Southern churches burn within a week; arson suspected in at least three
The Atlantic-Churches Are Burning Again in America
Raw Story-Second black church fire ruled arson — this time in Georgia — but authorities say it’s no hate crime
The Telegraph-Macon church fire ruled arson, hate crime not suspected
Daily Kos-3 Black Churches burnt in North Carolina, Georgia and S.Carolina in the past 5 days.