Police in Berkeley, California are looking for information on a lady who was caught on camera attempting to set fire to a Black church.
“I feel it intensely seeing the video,” Berkeley City Council member Ben Bartlett told KPIX. “It’s an attack on all of us, because the fair housing act came from this area, and people threw bricks through their windows while they were passing it.”
The woman approached Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church on Aug. 14 and attempted to set it on fire by hurling bricks at the window and putting lighter fluid on the lawn, according to security footage. The woman returned twice to try to start the fire but was unsuccessful.
The lighter wouldn’t take, wouldn’t come on full force, and nothing was lit,” stated lead pastor Kevin Craddock II.
This is the second time in the last year or so that a Black church in the neighborhood has apparently been set on fire. The Way Christian Center was devastated by fire in July 2020.
The next morning, when Craddock arrived at the church, he discovered damage to the window and then viewed the incident on surveillance tape.
“It was excruciatingly uncomfortable. We couldn’t believe what we were seeing,” he told KPIX, which received video of the incident. The woman’s attempt lasted seven minutes, including the time she took to leave and return to the building.
According to Craddock, the act was racially motivated. “There’s no way you don’t know what you’re doing,” says the narrator. You know this is an African American church, and you know how difficult it has been to start a fire in an African American church throughout history,” he continued.
Craddock wants to assist the woman as police encourage anyone with information about her or the arson attempt to contact authorities.
“We absolutely must find out who this young lady is. We want to assist her, and I feel that if they are in harmony, you can live in harmony as well,” Craddock added.
Following a fire at The Way Christian Center last year, the Rev. Mike McBride stated that he believes the fire was set deliberately after a Black Lives Matter banner was displayed.
He told ABC7 last year, “We are outraged and upset, and there is nothing more harmful in the world than righteous wrath.” It’s unclear whether a fire suspect was ever captured.
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