The racist-inspired premeditated murders of nine Black members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina seem to have sparked a rise in arson attacks on Black churches in the South.
Since the Charleston 9 shooting, there have been six fires set on Black churches all throughout the South.
Why isn’t mainstream media reporting on this, and just when will it end? #BlackLivesMatter
Glover Grove Baptist Church is nestled in a woody, quiet part of Warrenville, South Carolina, surrounded by trailer homes and old cars. The congregation is small, about 35 people according to local reports. You have to look hard online just to find a phone number or an address.
Hours before President Barack Obama spoke to a packed house in Charleston last Friday in another black church, delivering the eulogy for State Senator Clementa Pinckney, Glover Grove Baptist Church burned to the ground.
It is one of at least six black church burnings in the South, all of which have taken place in the week-and-a-half since nine people were killed in Emanuel AME Church.
Fires in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Knoxville, Tennessee, are both being investigated as arson. Authorities in Macon, Georgia, are investigating another there as “suspicious.” A fire at a Tallahasee, Florida, church was likely caused by electrical problems, authorities have said. Another in Gibson County, Tennessee, may have been caused by lightning. One burning in Charlotte is being investigated to determine if it could have been a hate crime.
Adonica Simpkins lives in a trailer home right next to Glover Grove Baptist Church. “I actually think it might be a hate crime,” she said, looking across a field to the church’s remains on a sticky, sunny South Carolina afternoon. “The way things are happening these days, you never can say. Look how they went up there and shot someone in the church, or other churches burning down. It’s just so much going on in the world. You never know.”
The burning actually woke Simpkins up that Friday morning, and she was one of the first to call 911, right before she walked down the road to the pastor’s house to make sure he saw it, too.
“You could actually feel the heat from the church,” she said. “The actual power lines, just started, pop, pop, pop! Then the power went off. It was terrible. You could see straight through the church, how it was burning.”
The churches that have been attacked are listed below:
1. Knoxville, TN — June, 21 — College Hill Seventh Day Adventist was set on fire on June 21. “Knoxville Police Department spokesperson Darrell DeBusk says the incident is not being investigated as a hate crime and the incident appears to be vandalism,” reports Knoxville, TN’s ABC affiliate WATE.
2. Macon, GA — June 23 — God’s Power of Christ Church was set on fire on and authorities are investigating the incident as an arson.
3. Charlotte, NC — June 24 — The Briar Creek Road Baptist Church, a black church in east Charlotte, was burned down and received $250,000 in damages. The church was set one fire in the middle of the night, just before 1 a.m. The fire is being investigated as a hate crime by the FBI.
4. Warrenville, SC — June 26 — Glover Grove Baptist Church was set on fire at 3 a..m. and was burned to the ground. “The FBI and other agencies are investigating the fire that destroyed a predominantly black Aiken County church” reported a local paper.
5. Tallahassee, FL — June 26 — Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church received $700,000 worth of damage in what authorities are investigating as a possible electrical fire. The church is a total loss.