Arrests In Alabama Church Fires

The police arrested three college students today in their ongoing investigation of ten church fires in Alabama. The CNN story is here. Two of the students attend Birmingham Southern College, one of Alabama’s elite liberal arts colleges. (For those readers who dismiss the college because they have never heard of it, and it’s in Alabama, think Kenyon or Haverford. Some of my best students at Alabama Law attended BSC.) The third attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham (known locally as UAB, and in college sports polls as Ala – Birmingham.)

I’m waiting to understand the logic, or even the illogic, of their actions. They torched five predominately white Baptist congregations, and five predominately African-American ones. It’s hard to see this as a mere prank but no easier to understand as a political attack. Somehow I suspect that one or more of these defendants will be blaming alcohol or drugs.

Nobody needed this string of fires, but they resonate specially in Alabama. Lets hope that the good news – the difference between now and then – is that these fires were merely pointless destruction, and not intended as a meaningful message to anyone at all.

UPDATE: The complaint in this case is available here.

You may also like...

7 Responses

  1. Mr. Filler writes: “Lets hope that the good news – the difference between now and then – is that these fires were merely pointless destruction, and not intended as a meaningful message to anyone at all.”

    When he writes “- the difference between now and then – “, I’m guessing he is referring to 1996…which Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe also recently referenced in a 2/15/06 column:

    “In 1996, a spate of fires in the South was wildly and falsely trumpeted in the media as an eruption of racism. ”We are facing an epidemic of terror,” said Deval Patrick, the Clinton administration’s assistant attorney general for civil rights. But as it turned out, there was no racist conspiracy. More than a third of the arsonists arrested were black, and more than half the churches burned were white.”

  2. Dan Filler says:

    MC – I suppose I was referring to a slightly different “then” – namely the incredible rash of racist church bombings that occurred only a few years ago, during the 1950’s and 1960’s. Many people would like to see this “then” as another era – so long ago, it seems inapplicable to today’s world. But this “other era” occurred during my life, while my siblings were still in college, while most of today’s Supreme Court Justices were adults. Things have changed a great deal in that time, but I would not minimize how short that time has been – and thus the very legitimate reasons to fear that church fires (like cross burning) might indeed be the product of racism.

  3. RS says:

    That link is password protected. Can you grab it and post it somewhere we can all get to?

  4. Dan Filler says:

    RS – I think the link is now working.

  5. Ed says:

    I have heard that the 3 arsonists are Jewish. ????

  6. Dan Filler says:

    Ed, why would their being Jewish matter? Does this look like an opening volley in a holy war?

    In any case, these kids are Christian, based on this quote from one of their web postings: “Let’s go out this weekend and defy the very morals of society instilled upon us by our parents, our relatives and of course Jesus Christ.”

  7. Ron says:

    The press isn’t bothering to investigate this. I suspect it is because the perpetrators were homosexuals. It is the only motive I can see – remember the police were looking for “bosom buddies”.