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String of fires at Black-majority churches

Sun 28 Jun 2015
By Aaron James

Fires have damaged or destroyed at least six American Black-majority churches in the past week since the Charleston shooting.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, fires have affected the following churches, all of which are in the southern US states:

*Glover Grover Baptist Church, Warrenville, South Carolina;
*Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church, Tallahassee, Florida;
*College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church, Knoxville, Tennessee;
*God's Power Church of Christ, Macon, Georgia;
*Briar Creek Baptist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, and;
*Fruitland Presbyterian Church, Gibson County, Tennessee.

Police have confirmed that in the cases of College Hills, God's Power Church and Briar Creek, arsonists deliberately caused the fires. The church pictured above is Briar Creek.

The cause of Greater Miracle's fire is still unknown, while it's believed a tree falling on power lines caused the Glover Grover fire and a lightning strike caused the Fruitland fire.

All of the incidents come after a white gunman killed nine black worshippers at a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

21-year-old Dylann Roof has been charged with their murders. Some families of the deceased publicly forgave Mr Roof and called for him to accept Jesus as his Lord and Saviour.

The murders have reignited calls for the Confederate flag - a symbol of slavery and white supremacy - to be taken down from public institutions.

David A. Love, a journalist who writes for Atlanta Black Star newspaper, said: "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.

"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.

"Strike at the Black church, and you strike at the heart of Black American life."

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