Wednesday, 18 September, 2019

Notre-Dame fire: Paris blaze inspires help for U.S. black churches

This booking image released by the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal shows Holden Matthews 21 who was arrested Notre-Dame's ashes spark renewed push to rebuild torched Louisiana churches
Patty Aguilar | 18 April, 2019, 03:26

'In the past month, three historically black churches in Louisiana were destroyed by a racist arsonist.

According to The Daily Beast, Matthews" Facebook page is alleged to have shown he was "active in pagan and black metal pages" and had commented on posts about Varg Vikernes, who spent 16 years in prison for the murder of his Mayhem bandmate Øystein "Euronymous' Aarseth and who was also accused of church burnings in Norway. "These churches need your help".

"It's all working out for the greater good", he said when asked about the connection being made to the Notre Dame fire. In the 10 days that followed, the Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas were also targeted by suspected arson.

On Monday as French firefighters tackled the blaze at the 850-year-old building, Louisiana resident Megan Romer tweeted her sadness over the cathedral's destruction. The money will be distributed equally between the three churches to rebuild them and pay for pews, sound systems and musical instruments. Prosecutors filed documents Monday adding three more charges, accusing Matthews of violating Louisiana's hate crime law, a link authorities had previously stopped short of making.

The churches were empty at the time, and no one was injured. But that and the fire were apparently where the similarities between the two situations ended.

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The fires in St. Landry Parish, near Lafayette, began March 26 when St. Mary Baptist Church was set ablaze.

Just last week, the son of Louisiana Deputy Roy Matthews of the St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office was arrested and charged with three counts of simple arson over the string of fires, as 21-year-old Holden Matthews was booked into St. Landry Parish jail after his father reportedly turned him in.

During the search for a suspect, Governor John Bel Edwards said the attacks were a reminder "of a very dark past of intimidation and fear".

Matthews, shackled and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, never spoke to the court during Monday's hearing, letting his court-appointed lawyer enter the not guilty plea for him.

Matthews' attorney Quincy Cawthorne questioned some of the evidence cited by Browning and said Matthews didn't have the financial means to be a flight risk.

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