Fundraising pages had been set up to raise the funds required to rebuild but as the world expressed sadness over the Notre-Dame cathedral tragedy and billionaires pledged millions in donations in response, one Louisiana resident to the opportunity to remind people of a tragedy in her own state.
Investigators also obtained surveillance photos of Matthews and his dad's Ford pickup truck, which investigators say he was driving minutes before the Greater Union Baptist Church caught fire, the affidavit said.
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GoFundMe spokeswoman Aja Shepherd confirmed in an email that giving to the destroyed Louisiana churches increased Tuesday after Romer's tweet and a challenge from freelance journalist Yashar Ali to his almost 400,000 Twitter followers. Three historically black churches have burned in recent weeks, charring buildings and scattering communities.
Donations that totalled about $300,000 almost a week into the campaign surged to $1.5 million by Wednesday night.
Blavity previously reported three Black churches in Louisiana were burned down between March 25 and April 6. Each was more than 100 years old.
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"It shows how little we are valued. They are equally as deserving", Elaine Syres said. Attacks on Black churches, using fire and other forms of violence, have always been used to intimidate the Black community and impede progress.
Still, in a Wednesday interview, he questioned whether white Americans would pay as much attention even if the fire happened at high-profile black churches, such as Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta or Birmingham, Alabama's 16th Street Baptist Church. Matthews also exchanged text messages with a friend who asked about the fires: "Was that your work?" the fire marshal said. When this particular string of crimes was investigated, it led to a group of young men who committed crimes against Black churches.
"To get calls from NY, and across the country and to show love for our sister churches means a whole lot to us", Pastor Mason Jack of the Seventh District Baptist Association in Louisiana told local television station KADN.
FIRST ALERT WEATHER: Enhanced Risk for severe weather
There are a number of factors at play in the atmosphere to contribute to a better than average chance for severe weather for us. Damaging winds and tornadoes could strike the Southeast and mid-Atlantic states, especially within the "enhanced risk" area.
As concerns were posted on social media, donations to the Louisiana churches surged.