Update July 3: A fund to rebuild the burned black churches has been started by MoveOn, with 100% to be donated for the rebuilding. Click here to help rebuild the burned churches.
By Miriam Raftery
July 2, 2015 (San Diego) – In a week when America celebrates its independence, the freedom to worship guaranteed by our constitution is under attack for some Americans.
Seven black churches have been burned across the south since a racist gunman shot and killed nine people at the Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina two weeks ago.
The latest church burning occurred at the Mt. Zion AME Church in South Carolina – the same church that was burned by the Ku Klux Klan 20 years ago. CNN reports that the FBI has indicated the latest burning may have been caused by lightning, since there were several lightning strikes near the church and no accelerants or other signs of arson were found there.
But at least two of the other recent burnings have been confirmed as arson and a third is suspected to be arson, CBS reports.
But questions have been raised after past church burnings over the objectivity of law enforcement officers responsible for conducting investigations into such crimes.
The Los Angeles Times has reported on the long history of black church burnings in America as well as troubling ties between law enforcement and white supremacists. The Justice Department, in a 1996 report titled “The Good Ol’ Boy Roundup,” probed a whites-only gathering by that name which included Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials and other federal officers. The report stated, “Our investigation revealed ample evidence of shocking racist, licentious, and puerile behavior by attendees occurring in various years. We also found that an atmosphere hostile to minorities -- and to women…”
Before the latest tragedy, the NAACP sent out tweets stating that it was “alerting black churches to take necessary precautions.” The nation’s oldest civil rights organization advocating for African-Americans also said that it is urging the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the string of black church burnings across several southern states.