By NJG Staff
The recent burnings of three historically Black churches in south-central Louisiana within 10 days are being investigated as possible arson. All three churches were consumed by the suspicious fires and investigators are now sifting through the remnants to determine if the three fires are connected. It remains unclear as to who may be responsible.
CNN reported they were told that some pastors in the area are sleeping in their churches as a precaution against additional fires.
All three fires occurred in St. Landry Parish located in Louisiana’s Cajun and Creole country. St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre burned on March 26, followed by Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas on April 2 and two days later, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in the same town.
“I feel our district was being targeted because all three of the churches were in our district,” Pastor Freddie Jack, the Seventh District Missionary Baptist Association president, told CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday (April 9).
“At first we thought it might have been an electrical problem, but then when the second church … burning occurred I realized it was our sister church … Then two days later the third occurred so at least (to) me, (it) made me think that we’re being targeted.”
St. Landry Parish is nearly 42 percent Black. Opelousas is 75 percent Black.
La. Gov. John Bel Edwards has appealed to the public for help in the investigation …
“Churches are sacred places, and no one should fear for their safety in their house of worship,” he said in a public address. “And no one should be concerned that their house of worship would be destroyed.”
“Right now, there are more questions than answers, but hopefully the investigation will yield information we can share with the public in short order.”
The burning have been called “domestic terrorism” by the national NAACP. In a press release issued April 9, the national office which is led by CEO and President Derrick Johnson, said, “What is happening in Tennessee and Louisiana is domestic terrorism and we must not turn a blind eye to any incident where people are targeted because of the color of their skin or their faith. The spike in church burnings in Southern states is a reflection of the emboldened racial rhetoric and tension spreading across the country.
“But this is nothing new. For decades, African-American churches have served as the epicenter of survival and a symbol of hope for many in the African-American community. As a consequence, these houses of faith have historically been the targets of violence. The NAACP stands vigilant to ensure that authorities conduct full investigations.”
“There is clearly something happening in this community,” State Fire Marshal H. Browning said in a statement last Thursday (April 4). “That is why it is imperative that the citizens of this community be part of our effort to figure out what it is.”
An account to help has been established at GoFundMe: Rebuild Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church. Go to https://www.gofundme.com/1lj11y0wg0.