Three historically black churches destroyed by arson have received more than $1 million in donations following the Notre Dame fire.
Soon after flames tore through the historic Paris cathedral, donations began pouring in – with billionaires and private businesses alike pledging one billion euros in just two days.
But the fire also prompted people to do the same for much smaller places of worship, thousands of miles away, which were recently destroyed by arson in hate crimes.
Three separate fires destroyed churches in a southern Louisiana parish over the past month; the churches had existed for more than a century and were the place of worship for generations of black families.
The fires were deemed to be suspicious, with a suspect being charged with three counts of arson on top of hate crimes on Monday (April 15), The New York Times reports.
Holden Matthews, 21, is the son of a deputy sheriff and was arrested last week, accused of setting fire to the three churches in St. Landry Parish. He pleaded not guilty.
As per the Associated Press, Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning testified at the 21-year-old’s bond hearing on Monday that there is extensive evidence linking Matthews to the arson.
This includes: mobile phone records which show his location, photographs of the fires before law enforcement arrived at the scene, and an interest in arson on Facebook.
State District Judge James Doherty said:
There is a substantial amount of evidence, it appears.
A crowdfunding campaign for the three churches destroyed by the fires was widely shared on social media yesterday (April 16), after many noted they were left struggling while billions were raised for Notre Dame.
The rebuild of Notre Dame will be well funded.
In the past month, three historically black churches in Louisiana were destroyed by a racist arsonist. He has been charged with hate crimes, but these churches need your help. Please join me in donating https://t.co/gj1BcNsGpu
— Yashar Ali 🐘 (@yashar) April 16, 2019
The campaign was posted on GoFundMe last Wednesday (April 10) by the Seventh District Baptist Association, although donations didn’t start pouring in until this week.
The association promised that donations would be split equally among all three churches and would go to rebuilding their sanctuaries and replacing all necessities lost in the fires – including pews, sound systems and musical instruments.
The page has now raised $1.1 million of its $1.8 million goal, a number which is steadily increasing as the minutes go by. Nearly 21,000 people had donated as of this afternoon, with Hillary Clinton and Yashar Ali both sharing the campaign on social media.
As we hold Paris in our thoughts today, let’s also send some love to our neighbors in Louisiana. Three historically black churches have burned in recent weeks, charring buildings and scattering communities. If you can, contribute to rebuilding funds here: https://t.co/OSteYWzU9v
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) April 16, 2019
You can donate to the GoFundMe page for the Louisiana churches here.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).