SF Bay Area

Arsonist Attempts to Set Fire to Black Church in Berkeley

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The Way Church in Berkeley, which has a racial justice advocate as a pastor, was targeted by an arsonist. Pastor Michael McBride, who leads the LIVE FREE gun violence prevention campaign and who co-founded the Black Church PAC, received a call from one of his ministers the morning of July 29 about the fire.

A neighbor reported seeing a suspicious person setting fire in the rear of the building. He and his roommate called the local fire department. Firefighters and police officers arrived and extinguished the blaze.  The fire burned down three trashcans and blackened the side of The Way Christian Center.

According the Churches press release:  “The minister found burned trash bins and property damage to the church building. McBride, who has traveled the country challenging white supremacy, had just hung a Black Lives Matter banner from his church, The Way Church. Hours later the church was set afire.

Pastor McBride held a press conference outside the church on Thursday, July 30 in Berkeley.  He denounced racial violence, assured reporters he would not be deterred by the arson, and he criticized the city and mayor of Berkeley several times for not calling him personally to notify him of the fire.

“For decades church fires were used as a means of terrorizing Black clergy and the Black community. I guess in Berkeley, it’s not something worthy of special attention by law enforcement officials” said Pastor Michael McBride.  “Regardless of the intentions of the suspect, we will not be silenced or intimidated. Were it not for an alert and courageous neighbor, my entire church could have been burned to the ground.”

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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