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Tag: Louisiana

Prosecutors File Hate Crime Charges Against Man Accused of Torching 3 Black Churches

Holden Matthews

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against the white man suspected of setting fire to three African American churches in Louisiana.

Authorities believe Holden Matthews, the 21-year-old son of a sheriff’s deputy, was motivated by racism when he allegedly used gasoline to burn three historic black church in the St. Landry Parish over 10 days, The Associated Press reports.

On Monday, Matthews pleaded not guilty to the hate crimes and three counts of arson of a religious building. Worried Matthews is a flight risk, state District Judge James Doherty denied bail for Matthews, who had no previous criminal record.

“We felt that he was an immediate risk to public safety,” said Louisiana Fire Marshal Butch Browning. “In my mind, I felt another fire was imminent.”

The ATF helped local authorities in the hunt for the culprit.

Matthews was charged after authorities said his cell phone records placed him at the arsons. Found on the phone were images of the three churches burning, the fire marshal said.

Son of Sheriff’s Deputy Arrested Over Fires at 3 Black Churches in La.

Suspect Holden Matthews. Via Facebook.

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

The 21-year-old son of a St. Landry Parish deputy has been identified as the suspect accused of setting fire to three historic black churches in Louisiana.

“A suspect has been identified in connection with the three church burnings in Opelousas, Louisiana, and is in state custody,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph in a statement. “The U.S. Attorney’s Office, ATF, and FBI are working with state and local law enforcement and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the victims and those St. Landry Parish residents affected by these despicable acts.”

Holden Matthews was turned in by his father, Deputy Roy Matthews, on Wednesday evening, CBS News reports.

The three fires have a lot in common: They broke out at historic African American church buildings in Louisiana Landry Parish at night, were located in rural areas and occurred when no one was inside.

The suspect lives in the Landry Parish.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether authorities have a motive.

The ATF and other agencies are holding a press conference at 10 a.m. Thursday to release more information.

Earlier this week, the NAACP called the church burnings “domestic terrorism” aimed at people because of their race and faith.

The first fire broke out on March 26 and burned St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre to the ground. The second fire occurred Tuesday at the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas, and the third fire broke out Thursday at the 100-year-old Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas.

FBI, ATF Investigate ‘Suspicious’ Fires at 3 Historic Black Churches in Louisiana

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI, ATF and Louisiana state officials are investigating a series of “suspicious” blazes at historic black Baptist churches in Louisiana.

The three fires have a lot in common: They broke out at historic African American church buildings in Louisiana Landry Parish at night, were located in rural areas and occurred when no one was inside, ABC News reports.

The first fire broke out on March 26 and burned St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre to the ground. The second fire occurred Tuesday at the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas, and the third fire broke out Thursday at the 100-year-old Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas.

Authorities said they’re on high alert and consider all three fires to be suspicious.

FBI Arrests Accused Gangster Disciples Leader in Louisiana

Shauntay Lamar Craig

Shauntay Lamar Craig, via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An alleged leader of the Gangster Disciples was captured by the FBI and other law enforcement Sunday and is expected to be extradited to Atlanta to be charged with federal racketeering charges.

Shauntay Lamar Craig, 38, was arrested in Marrero, Louisiana, The Times-Picayune reports.

Authorities said Craig was a “board member” within the Gangster Disciples, who “are believed to be responsible for numerous murders and robberies, and are alleged to have engaged in extortion plots and drug/narcotics trafficking throughout the United States.”

Craig was indicted in April by a federal grand jury, along with 49 other suspected gang members, under the Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act.

Craig was the only suspect to escape arrest at the time.

Ex-Louisiana Cop Admits He Lied about Striking Woman in Civil Rights Case

HomerLouisianaPoliceDept (1)By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A former Louisiana police officer who used excessive force on a woman in 2012 has pleaded guilty to violating her civil rights and lying to the FBI.

Homer Police Department Officer Willie Fred Knowles was accused of pushing the woman to the floor and striking her face and body, the Guardian reports. 

When questioned by the FBI, the officer falsely claimed the woman pounced on him and that he never struck her.

Authorities said Knowles also used his taser against two people in 2012 “without justification.”

He faces five year in prison when sentenced.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Warns Cities in Louisiana to Brace for Potential Violence During Protests

Screenshot of video of man killed by police.

Screenshot of video of man killed by police.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI’s New Orleans Field Division has issued a warning to law enforcement to be on the look out for potential violence in Baton Rouge and Shreveport.

The bulletin cites numerous problematic social media posts after the fatal shooting of 37-year-old Anton Sterling by Baton Rouge police.

The “Potential Activity Alert” came before police in riot gear arrested dozens in Baton Rouge on Sunday. Police said protesters were throwing chunks of concrete and bottles at law enforcement.

Louisiana Lawmaker Calls for Justice Department Probe After Police Shoot Black Man

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Louisiana lawmaker is calling on the Justice Department to investigate Baton Rouge Police after at least one officer shot a 37-year-old man to death while he was on the ground.

A video of the shooting provoked protests in Louisiana Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond wants federal investigators to solves some of the “unanswered questions” in the case.

“There are a number of unanswered questions surrounding Mr. Sterling’s death, including questions about the initial calls for police presence, the level of force used by officers, the verbal and physical altercation, and the response of the officers after he was shot,” Richmond said Wednesday in a statement, KXLF.com reports. http://www.kxlf.com/story/32381137/louisiana-lawmaker-calls-on-justice-department-to-investigate-police-shooting-death

Local police are reviewing the video.

The officers are on administrative leave pending an investigation.

FBI: Louisiana Governor in 1960s Gave KKK Money to Quell Racial Violence

KKK members.

KKK members.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Louisiana’s governor in the mid-1960s doled out privately raised money to Ku Klux Klan members in hopes of avoiding racial violence, FBI records show.

The Advocate reports that Klan members were promised money after the 1964 gubernatorial election in exchange for peace.

FBI agents believed that Gov. John J. McKeithen, who received campaign donation from the Klan, was behind the payments.

It’s unclear whether McKeithen’s strategy worked. Federal agencies note that there were at least a half-dozen Klan-related homicides, scores of beatings and dozens of fire bombings in central Louisiana between 1964 and 1969.

McKeithen fell out of favor of the Klan after he began working on pro-civil rights efforts.