The only thing that could make the utterly detestable #CharlestonShooting at the Emanuel AME Church worse is if some copycat were inspired to target other black churches. That would seem to be the case, as word spreads on social media that at least six black churches have been burned since the Charleston, S.C., massacre.
Enter the Los Angeles Times to at last cover the story that no one’s reporting but has inspired the trending topic #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches.
“None of the late-night attacks have been a declared a hate crime and it’s unclear whether any of the fires are linked,” reports Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times. “Social media reports that six black churches have been burned down in arson attacks are not accurate, according to local officials’ accounts of the fires.” Pearce’s look into the fires, backed up by interviews with investigators, is illuminating.
What happened to the Fruitland Presbyterian Church on the night of June 23 was sad — the church burned down — but it probably does not belong in news and social media reports circulating about arsons at black churches.
“That church is a white church, and it was struck by lightning,” Bryan Cathey, the Gibson County fire chief, told The Times. He said he is “98% sure” the blaze was caused by a lightning strike. “We’re just waiting on the ATF report,” he said.
Things are so divided racially in America that even white churches hit by lightning are now black churches hit by arsonists.
Another church fire in Florida was attributed to a large tree limb falling on an electrical service line and causing an electrical short.
As usual, CNN’s Don Lemon was mistaken for Twitter’s punching bag.
Hopefully none of the fires is determined to be a hate crime; there’s been enough hurt and division. What do you think, Chris Hayes?
That’s not very dramatic. Can we punch that up a bit?