When a string of fires erupted in Jackson, Mississippi, on Election Day, including fires that damaged two historic black churches, Democratic congressional candidate Shuwaski Young thought he knew who to blame.
“This morning several churches were burned in Jackson, Mississippi on Election Day,” he said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“These cowardly actions invoke historical acts of terrorism when people are fighting for their right to vote and live peacefully as Americans and Mississippians. We will not be deterred and will not be intimidated. We will not allow domestic terrorists to suppress our right to vote. I ask all Mississippians to GO VOTE regardless of this decades old intimidation tactic to suppress our votes today. Just go VOTE.”
The comment got a reaction on Twitter that changed with the facts.
— KP🙌🏿💙🙌🏻 (@Fam4Fun) November 8, 2022
The layers of racist symbolism associated with burning churches… in Mississippi… on Election Day. When will this country wake up? This makes me incredibly sad… I’m guessing the terrorist/arsonist who did this thinks they’re a Christian and a patriot.
— Lesley Gordon PE Esq (@LesleyGordon73) November 8, 2022
…except the suspect is a black man. You can stop the racial narrative now. pic.twitter.com/bQ308sBsF2
— Mitch Farris (@PsiOps70) November 8, 2022
Later Tuesday, police arrested a man who did not fit Young’s profile.
According to Fox News, no information has been given about the motive for the fires.
Churches among multiple fires set near @JacksonStateU
Greater Bethlehem Temple Church
Epiphany Church / Isaiah Montgomery
Baseball Field on JSU Campus
Gas Station on Terry RD
Central / Dalton
1101 Pascagoula St
Terry Road / Cherry Streethttps://t.co/vdxy4xrKxl #ElectionDay
— 𝓐𝓵𝓮𝓼𝓱𝓪 𝓚. 𝓡𝓾𝓼𝓼𝓮𝔂 Ph.D. 🤔💭 (@i_AmMyBrand) November 8, 2022
The fires were all in the area of Jackson State University, a historically black public college.
Calls about the fires first came in at about 2:45 a.m. Six of the seven blazes were put out by 6 a.m., but the fire that destroyed 85-year-old Epiphany Lutheran Church, one of the state’s oldest predominantly black Lutheran churches, burned for four hours.
A look at what’s left of the Epiphany Lutheran Church in Jackson. This church and six other churches/buildings were set on fire early this morning. @WJTV/ @WHLT22 https://t.co/bUN8ZCn8F3 pic.twitter.com/h8Zn7Y4PGF
— Kayla Thompson (@KThompsonTV) November 8, 2022
“This church has been here since back in the 1940s. It’s one of the oldest predominantly Black Lutheran churches in the state of Mississippi,” Epiphany Church member Bobby Hathorne said, according to WAPT-TV. “This is a shock to us that something like this could happen.”
Ervin Ricks, communications director for Greater Bethlehem Temple Church, said the children’s Sunday School area was damaged.
“We can’t always understand why people do evil, but we know that it’s our job. It’s our job to overcome evil with good. That’s why we’re committed to continue to help this community,” Ricks said.
Firefighting resources were strained to respond, according to WAPT-TV.
Delvin McLaurin arrested for setting fire to historical black churches – Greater Bethlehem Temple Church, Epiphany Lutheran Church and 5 other fires in Jackson, Mississippi.https://t.co/aJulYhhX9f
— Andrea Issa (@PublicAdvocacy) November 9, 2022
“I’ve been here for 30 years. This is a major occurrence,” Jackson Fire Department Assistant Chief Patrick Armon said. “This is not something we normally go to. We have about a third of our department on sites.”
Young, who sought to ignite voters as well as passions, ended up losing his election to Republican Rep. Michael Guest, who won the 3rd Congressional District race. With 94 percent of the precincts reporting, Guest was ahead of Young by 42.2 percentage points, according to the Jackson Clarion-Ledger.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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