Who is Burning Black Churches?

Mount Zion AME in Greeleyville, South Carolina, is the seventh black church that has been burned down since the shootings in Charleston, when Dylann Storm Roof—after declaring his white supremacist intentions online—killed eight black parishioners and their pastor, Senator Clementa Pinckney. Roof wrote:

I am not in the position to, alone, go into the ghetto and fight. I chose Charleston because it is most historic city in my state, and at one time had the highest ratio of blacks to Whites in the country. We have no skinheads, no real KKK, no one doing anything but talking on the internet. Well someone has to have the bravery to take it to the real world, and I guess that has to be me.

Unfortunately at the time of writing I am in a great hurry and some of my best thoughts, actually many of them have been to be left out and lost forever. But I believe enough great White minds are out there already.

As the FBI investigates each arson separately as potential hate crimes, no perpetrators have yet been found, nor has there been an investigation into a potential "link" between these burnings. On social media a trending hashtag #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches calls the media out on overusing passive-tense headlines and draws our attention to the immediate hesitation of the (white) media to speculate anything could possibly be motivated by hate, let alone race--as exemplified by CNN's latest headline, "Lightning may have caused South Carolina church fire, FBI says."

To speculate that an organized (racist) movement (motivated by hate) might be behind the crimes is common sense, especially since there is a tradition of burning black churches that was believed to have ended in 1996, only after the Dept. of Justice under the Clinton Administration needed to create a National Church Arson task force to deal with a resurgence of this age-old practice in the mid-90s.

The Southern Poverty Law center reported 784 active hate groups in 2014. That number is up from 602 hate groups in 2000, before President Obama was elected. Neo-Nazis make up 142 of them; Racist-Skinheads, 119; White Nationalist, 115; Black Separatist, 115; Ku Klux Klan, 72; and others fill out the rest.

The SPLC is calling for congressional hearings to address crimes against black churches as threats of domestic terrorism. I don't think that's an unfounded speculation.

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