3 Black Churches Burned In 10 Days In A Single Louisiana Parish
Three historically black churches have been burned in less than two weeks in one South Louisiana parish. Officials say they have found “suspicious elements” in each case but they have not ruled out the possibility of arson or the possibility that the fire are related.
There is clearly something happening in this community. That is why it is imperative that the citizens of this community be part of our effort to figure out what it is.” said Marshall H. Browning in a statement on Thursday.
The three fires took place on March 26, Tuesday and Thursday in St. Landry Parish, north of Lafayette. A fourth fire occurred from a small blaze that was “intentionally set” said officials. This was reported on Sunday at a predominately black church in Caddo Parish, approximately three hours north.
“But just as we haven’t connected the three in St. Landry, we haven’t connected the one in Caddo” said Ashley Rodrigue, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal on Friday.
Local officials stated that they are still investigating the fires and did not say if they knew of any suspects, a motive or if racism was an element. According to Jeff Nowakowski, spokesman for the A.T.F.’s New Orleans, stated that the FBI and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives are involved in the investigation.
“There certainly is a commonality, and whether that leads to a person or persons or groups, we just don’t know.” said Mr. Browning at a news conference on Thursday.
Rev. Gerald Toussaint, pastor at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas, LA, was heading to work early Thursday morning when he receive a phone call from his wife stating she had seen on social media that their church was in flames. Rev. Toussaint was already aware of the other two other fire that took nearby at St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre and Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas.
“I’m trying to find out who did it, why they did it, did it have anything to do with me, I don’t know none of this.” said Mr. Toussaint, who drives trucks for a living.
Source: New York Times