After Notre Dame, support for torched black churches swells

After Notre Dame, support for torched black churches swells

It took less than two days to raise almost $1 billion to restore and rebuild Notre Dame after the iconic Paris cathedral's devastating fire.

The white man charged in the burnings of three Louisiana black churches faces a mountain of evidence tying him to the crimes, documenting the fires on his cellphone and an interest in arson on Facebook, the state fire marshal said Monday at a hearing that offered new insight into how officials tracked their suspect.

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.

The St. Landry Parish churches were deliberately burned down in a suspected string of hate crimes in late March and early April this year.

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.

The massive attention focused on the French landmark prompted Megan Romer to take note and tweet: "My heart is broken over the loss of Notre Dame. Let's not forget to be even more outraged about that", Twitter user Joe Boyd wrote. Each was more than 100 years old. "These black churches, the mosque, Native American sites, they are not as valued as Catholicism or Christianity in that aspect, and it's frustrating", Johnson said in a Wednesday interview.

But journalist Thomas Chatterton Williams, in a series of tweets, took issue with the notion that concern about Notre Dame could be boiled down to a matter of race. Matthews is the son of Louisiana sheriff's deputy Roy Matthews.

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There is a long history in the United States of crimes, most often arson, being committed against historically Black churches, especially ones wherein there is a tradition of social and racial justice organizing.

On April 13, Watson tweeted a link to a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising money for the church rebuilding efforts.

And, in a way, the Notre Dame fire has helped the Louisiana churches.

The churches were empty at the time, and no one was injured.

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".

"We felt that he was an immediate risk to public safety", said Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning. "They are equally as deserving", Elaine Syres said.

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