According to The New York Times, in the past 10 days, three black churches in south Louisiana have burned to the ground. Officials say there are “suspicious elements” in each case. It is possible that the three fires are related.
State Fire Marshal H. Browning said in a statement Thursday: “There is clearly something happening in this community.” He continued, “That is why it is imperative that the citizens of this community be part of our efforts to figure out what it is.”
The three fires were set in St. Landry Parish. A fourth fire was said to have been “intentionally set” according to officials. The fourth fire was at Caddo Parish.
Ashley Rodrigue, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal said: “But just as we haven’t connected the three in St. Landry, we haven’t connected the one in Caddo.”
Officials do not yet have any suspects and do not know of any motives.
“There certainly is a commonality, and whether that leads to a person or persons or groups, we just don’t know,” Browning said.
Black churches have been the targets of racist attacks since the 1950s. For example, in 2015, nine people were shot by a white supremacist at an African-American church in Charleston, South Caroline.
At a Thursday news conference, Sheriff Bobby Guidroz of St. Landry Parish said police would do “whatever it takes” to protect churches and attendees.
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