By Lauren Victoria Burke, NNPA Newswire Contributor
A man arrested in connection with the Louisiana Black church fires is a law enforcement official’s son, reports say. When he was arraigned this past week, the judge denied his request for bail based on the severity and impact of his crimes.
A 21-year-old named Holden Matthews has been arrested in connection with fires at three predominantly Black churches in Louisiana. All three churches were destroyed. Matthews’ social media accounts evidenced loose connections with white supremacy.
St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre burned down on March 26. On April 2, the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas, Louisiana was burned down. Two days after that fire on April 4, the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church was also burned in the same town. Authorities are confident that the fires were all intentionally set.
Members of the Congressional Black Caucus asked for the FBI to investigate the arsons as a hate crime.
“Congressional Black Caucus Chair Karen Bass, Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, and Representative Cedric Richmond of Louisiana’s Second Congressional District call on the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and all federal law enforcement agencies to investigate the possible hate crime that resulted in the recent burning of the three historically Black churches in St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. All three fires may be the product of domestic terrorism, and places of worship should be protected and safe at all times. It is our expectation that the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies work expeditiously to resolve this matter to restore faith and normalcy among the residents of St. Landry Parish,” the CBC members stated in a statement on April 11.
On April 9, NAACP President Derrick Johnson commented on the church fires saying, “What is happening in Tennessee and Louisiana is domestic terrorism and we must not turn a blind eye to any incident where people are targeted because of the color of their skin and their faith.”
“The spike in church burnings in the Southern states is a reflection of emboldened racial rhetoric and tension spreading across the country,” Johnson added.
Johnson and other civil rights leaders have pointed out that President Trump has been silent on these Louisiana church burnings and other ‘hate crimes’.
Several black churches were burned in 2015 after the nine people were murdered by Dylan Roof at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In 1995, three Black churches in Greene County, Alabama were burned and subsequently rebuilt.
Holden Matthews was taken into custody on the evening of April 10, according to Louisiana TV station KATC. The station also reported that Matthews is the son of a St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputy but did not name who the deputy was.
At the time the fires were set at the churches they were empty.
Matthews’ social media indicated an interest in heavy metal music and that he is the lead singer of a band called Vodka Vultures. Reports from local news reveal Matthews lives in Saint Landry Parish.