Donations for burned black churches up after Notre Dame fire

Article Image Louisiana Man Facing Hate Crime Charges for 3 Black Church Burnings

On Feb. 1, 1996, there was a string of arsons that burned down three Black churches in East Baton Rouge. But the social media blitz shot that total up to almost $1.4 million in less than 48 hours.

Reverend Freddie Jack, who is president of the Seventh District Missionary Baptist Association, of which the three churches belong, told the Associated Press the donations were a "blessing".

As the community of St. Landry Parish is dedicated to rebuilding the churches, former New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson has committed himself to the cause.

The Seventh District Baptist Association set up a GoFundMe page almost a week ago to help fund repairs for St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, plus Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, both in Opelousas.

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The fundraiser was created on April 10, the same day Holden Matthews was arrested for the attacks that occurred over a 10-day period in Opelousas, Louisiana. "The Catholic Church is also one of the world's wealthiest entities".

According to a court affidavit, it was the charred remains of a Scepter brand gas can, which federal agents found at Mount Pleasant Baptist, that led police to a Walmart in Opelousas and then to Matthews, according to an affidavit. Each was more than 100 years old. "Three historically black churches in Louisiana were destroyed".

Still, in a Wednesday interview, he questioned whether white Americans would pay as much attention even if the fire happened at high-profile black churches, such as Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta or Birmingham, Alabama's 16th Street Baptist Church.

In the aftermath of the Notre Dame fire, a GoFundMe for the burned churches has gone viral, with the amount raised spiking from $50,000 on Sunday to over $1 million Wednesday morning. When this particular string of crimes was investigated, it led to a group of young men who committed crimes against Black churches.

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More than 20,000 people have donated to rebuild and fix the churches after social media users highlighted the campaign amid fundraising efforts for the famed Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Some online commenters said the greater focus on Notre Dame was understandable given its history, size and artistic significance.

Mr Matthews was arrested last week and charged with arson of a religious building before the state hate crime charges were added.

Holden Matthews, 21, charged with three counts of simple arson on religious buildings, is seen in this booking photo at St. Landry Parish Jail in Opelousas, Louisiana, U.S., made available on April 11, 2019.

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