The city of St. Louis has been plagued by a string of fires at churches with black congregations. Some were quick to jump to the conclusion that the fires were racially motivated. David Graham at The Atlantic played that racial card:

The situation is not unlike the arsons that followed the massacre at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston this summer. As The Atlantic pointed out at the time, there’s a long history of terrorism against black churches in America, one that begins in the era of slavery and continues up through Reconstruction, the civil-rights era, and into the 1990s. But unlike those burnings—and despite the intense focus on the St. Louis area since the August 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson—the recent arsons have been slow to get the same attention, either in the national media or even in the area….

Burnings of black churches has often been a tactic for white supremacist groups.

That narrative took a hit with the announcement that a suspect was arrested for two of the fires. The suspect is black.

The Washington Post reports:

Suspect arrested for arson following string of St. Louis church fires

A suspect has been arrested and charged with arson following a string of church fires this month in St. Louis, authorities announced Friday.

David Lopez Jackson, 35, faces two counts of arson in connection with two church fires, St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said. Jackson remains a suspect in five other church fires, which are under active investigation.

“Hopefully, there are more charges coming,” Dotson said at a Friday news conference.

Authorities said the fires don’t appear to be the result of a hate crime or the targeting of a particular Christian denomination of ethnic group. Several of the churches that were attacked were predominantly African American, but at least two were not. Jackson is black, according to police.

Dotson said the motive is still unclear.

“Arson of any kind is disturbing,” St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay said Friday. “It is especially disturbing when arson is directed at the very foundation of our community.”

This Associated Press report has more details:

In a testament to the faith of this community, several religious leaders in the area forgave the arsonist before there was even a suspect.

Channel 11 in St. Louis reported:

St. Louis religious leaders call for fires to stop, forgive church arsonist

St. Louis religious leaders are uniting as one in an effort to stop the attacks on area churches. Six places of worship have been burned by an arsonist over the last two weeks. They are speaking with one voice when they say the church fires must stop.

Young people and religious leaders standing in solidarity, condemning attacks on churches…

The acts of violence have touched the hearts of senior outreach specialists with Better Family Life, who go door-to-door in the community telling residents about available programs. They can offer help for people who are mentally and spiritually broken, which is what religious leaders believe is the case with the arsonist. They made it clear they forgive whoever is responsible for setting the fires, but want them to stop.

Featured image via YouTube.


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