|Photo by liz west.|
In what may not be a coincidence, a string of nighttime fires have damaged or destroyed at least six predominately black churches in four southern states in the past week.
Arsonists started at least three of the fires, while other causes are being examined in the other fires, investigators say.
The series of fires — some of them suspicious and possible hate crimes — came in the week following a murderous rampage by a white supremacist who shot and killed nine people at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C.
The fires also occurred at a time when there is increasing public pressure to remove the Confederate flag — one of the last hallmarks of white superiority — from government buildings and public places as well as banning assorted Confederate flag merchandise sold in retails stores and online.
Even if the fires are deemed arson, it takes additional proof under reporting standards to conclude the act was a hate crime, investigators say.
“As the nation grapples with the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., one of the oldest Black churches in the South, other Black churches have become recent targets of arson,” writer David A. Love said today at Atlanta BlackStar.
“From slavery and the days of Jim Crow through the civil rights movement and beyond, white supremacists have targeted the Black church because of its importance as a pillar of the Black community, the center for leadership and institution building, education, social and political development and organizing to fight oppression,” Love wrote.
“Strike at the Black church, and you strike at the heart of Black American life,” the writer added.
The most recent fires occurred early today at the Glover Grover Baptist Church, in Warrenville, S.C., and at the Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Fla.