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Added Jul 01, 2015 at 01:51PM EDT by Don.

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#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches is a Twitter hashtag launched to bring awareness to a series of fires and arsons that took place at predominantly black churches across the Southern United States in June 2015, prompting many Americans to speculate that the incidents may have been racially motivated in connection to the renewed Confederate Flag debate in the aftermath of the Charleston Church shooting earlier that month. However, the officials leading the investigation so far have found no evidence of hate crimes that can be linked to the fires.


Church Fires

On June 21st, 2015, a fire was reported at the College Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Firefighters discovered stacks of hay and soil placed around the church's doors that had been deliberately set aflame. On June 23rd, a fire was reported at the God's Power Church of Christ in Macon, Georgia. Investigators subsequently ruled that the fire was intentionally caused by an arsonist. On June 24th, the Briar Creek Road Baptist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina was destroyed in a fire In a statement on their Facebook[1] page, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) federal agency released a statement noting that their was no evidence that the crime was racially motivated or related to the other fires. The same day, the Fruitland Presbyterian Church in Gibson County, Tennessee burned down, which investigators ruled may have been caused by a lightning strike. On June 26th, the Glover Grove Baptist Church in Warrenville, South Carolina was set ablaze. Investigators subsequently ruled the cause as "undetermined." The same day, the Greater Miracle Temple Apostolic Holiness Church in Tallahassee, Florida set fire due to a downed electrical wire.

Notable Developments


On June 28th, Twitter users Andie the Obamanista[2] tweeted the hashtag "#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches."[3] That day, other Twitter users began posting the hashtag in tweets speculating that the church fires were set by racially motivated arsonists.

Follow Andie the Obamanista @andie_walsh #WholsBurningBlackChurches ?簖쌘 RETWEETS FAVORITES 3. @. 49 30 10:39 AM-28 Jun 2015

The following day, Twitter user Deray Mckesson posted a tweet arguing that the "spirit of the KKK" was responsible for the fires (shown below, left). Also on June 29th, CNN anchor Don Lemon posted a tweet noting that only two of the six churches were ruled as arson (shown below, right).

deray mckesson @deray ' Follow We know #WholsBurningBlackChurches, it is the spirit of the KKK, America's original hate group, a spirit that informed this nation's birth. RETWEVORITES ETS FA 8:56 PM - 29 Jun 2015 Don Lemon @donlemon な 塩Follow Only 2 of 6 churches possible arson. 1 caused by lightning. 1 caused by tree limb. None determined hate crimes. #WholsBurningBlackChurches RETWEETS FAVORITES 102 9:50 PM-29 Jun 2015

According to the Twitter analytics site Topsy,[4] there were over 178,000 mentions of the hashtag over the next 72hours.

Tweets per day: #WholsBurningBlackChurches June 1st-July 1st 100K 80K 60K 40K 20K 6/2 6/5 6/8 6/13 6/16 6/19 6/22 6/25 6/28 #WholsBurningBlackChurches 178,650 ANALYTICS BTOPSY

News Media Coverage

In the coming days, several news sites published articles about the Twitter hashtag, including Twitchy,[5] DailyKos,[6] USA Today,[7] Metro,[8] PBS,[9] and Vibe.[10]

Search Interest

Not available.

External References

[1] Facebook – ATF

[2] Twitter – @andie_walsh

[3] Twitter – #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

[4] Topsy – #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

[5] Twitchy – #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches?

[6] DailyKos – #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches?#

[7] USA Today – Twitter users ask #whoisburningblackchurches?

[8] Metro – #WhoIsBurningBlackChurches

[9] PBS – Black churches in the South reportedly targeted by arsonists

[10] Vibe – "#WhoIsBurningBlackChurches ":http://www.vibe.com/2015/06/twitter-who-is-burning-black-churches/

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