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Man Celebrated Pres. Obama’s Election By Burning Down African-American Church

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By Glynnesha Taylor
ticklethewire.com

Not everyone rejoiced the day after President Obama was elected as the first African-American President.

In fact, Massachusetts resident Benjamin Haskell, 23, celebrated by burning down a yet to be completed, predominantly African-American church in Springfield, Mass., on Nov. 5, 2008, the morning after the election, authorities said.

On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to burning down the structure of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ that was 75 percent completed, the Justice Department said.

Authorities said the arson was the result of an unknown amount of gasoline that was poured on both the inside and outside of the building.

“The freedom to practice the religion that we choose in a safe environment without being subjected to discrimination or hateful acts is among our nation’s most cherished rights,” Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a statement.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz of Boston said in a statement: “Today’s conviction should send a strong message that hate crimes will be vigorously investigated and prosecuted in Massachusetts.

“When I announced my civil rights initiative earlier this month, I made it clear that the U.S. Attorney’s Office will be reinvigorating it’s efforts in this area, and making it one our top priorities.”

Sentencing is set for Sept. 29 before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor.


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