As of last night, seven reportedly black churches have been set ablaze following the June 17, 2015, massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The churches are:
- College Hills Seventh Day Adventist Church (On June 22 in Knoxville, Tenn.)
- God’s Power Church of Christ (On June 23 in Macon, Ga.)
- Fruitland Presbyterian Church (On June 23 in Gibson County, Tenn.)
- Briar Creek Baptist Church (On June 24 in Charlotte, N.C.)
- Greater Miracle Apostolic Holiness Church (On June 26 in Tallahassee, Fla.)
- Glover Grover Baptist Church (On June 26 in Warrenville, S.C.)
- Mount Zion African Methodist Episcopal (On June 30 in Greeleyville, S.C.)
No congregants have been reported injured in any of the fires. Investigators have concluded that at least three of them—Knoxville, Macon and Charlotte—were likely the result of arson. Hate crime investigations are underway in both Charlotte and Macon, but there have been no official determinations and no reports of arrests. Officials in Gibson County have ruled that lightning caused the Fruitland Presbyterian Church fire, and a tree limb that fell onto power lines is said to be at fault in Tallahassee. In Warrenville, investigators say the cause is still “undetermined.”
Though the case is still under investigation, an anonymous source told The Associated Press that last night’s blaze at Mount Zion AME was not the result of arson and that there was a lightning storm in the area when the church caught fire. It’s the second time a fire destroyed the building. The first was in June 1995, when members of the KKK were convicted of the crime in the midst of a two-year stretch when about 30 black churches were felled by fire.
While local and federal investigators probe the fires, Twitter has taken mainstream media to task for lack of coverage, using the hashtag #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches:
Where has the MEDIA been? #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches pic.twitter.com/CWDblvml2I
— Jillian Hurley (@BeautyBind) June 30, 2015
What if there were a resurgence of terrorist attacks on American churches. Should 24news make time for that? #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches?
— jesseWilliams. (@iJesseWilliams) June 30, 2015
ANOTHER Black church in South Carolina is on fire RIGHT NOW. Will @cnn @msnbc @foxnews give a damn NOW?! #7 #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) July 1, 2015
Old enough to remember the entire national media apparatus showing up in Baltimore bc of one burning CVS. #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches
— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) July 1, 2015
For those interested in helping to rebuild the fallen churches, Christ Church Cathedral, an Episcopal church in St. Louis, has started the Rebuild the Churches Fund. All donations are tax-deductible and will be dispersed equally to the churches whom investigators conclude were destroyed by arson. At press time, it had raised more than $22,000.
*Post has been updated to reflect that College Heights Baptist Church may not be a predominantly black church.