Black churches have been the target of white supremacists for decades, from the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing to Dylan Roof murdering church goers at African Methodist Episcopal Church in 2015. The latest incident is another example of hate towards African-Americans and their faith.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, an unidentified 16-year-old white girl planned to attack Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, a historically Black church in Gainesville, Georgia. Her plans were foiled when students reported her to administrators. It is also unclear how she planned to carry out the attacks.
Police Chief Jay Parrish said in a statement, “Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members. The church was immediately notified of the incident by Gainesville police to ensure the safety of our community and the current threat was under control.”
The teen has been “charged with criminal attempt to commit murder and taken to the Gainesville Regional Youth Detention Center,” according to AJC. The 16-year-old reportedly went to the church last Wednesday, but there were no events planned.
Bishop Reginald T. Jackson said in a statement, “While we are very concerned about this incident, we are not surprised. Hate crimes and domestic terrorism have been on the rise for many years, but it is unfortunate we cannot have this perpetrator prosecuted on hate crimes in Georgia because there is no law on the books to address it.”
See the news clip below:
Hate crimes are certainly on the rise and Black churches have been a target. In April of this year, three Black churches burned down on the same day in Louisiana. Additionally, hate crimes have increased since the election of Donald Trump. Hate crimes in nine U.S. metropolitan areas rose more than 20 percent in 2016, reversing what had been a downward trend. The most frequent victims of hate crimes in the U.S., however, are African-Americans.
Richard Rose, president of the Atlanta branch of the NAACP, said in August of 2018, “When this president campaigned, it was a campaign of division and bigotry. And so, those people who believe in discrimination of any kind gravitated to that campaign. After the election, they feel emboldened to act out these statements that have racial overtones in them.”
Thankfully, the plan to harm a Black church was stopped, but it is clear white supremacists are targeting African-Americans in their most sacred spaces.