Two Klansmen Indicted for Burning SC Church
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Two former members of the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
who allegedly helped burn a predominantly African American church, a migrant camp and
a black man's car in rural South Carolina last year were indicted on civil rights, arson,
firearms and ammunition charges. The indictment follows pleas earlier this week by two
other former Klansmen who also helped torch the church.
In a 20-count indictment, returned Thursday and unsealed today in U.S. District Court
in Charleston, Arthur Allen Haley, 51, and Hubert Lavon Rowell, 50 were charged with
conspiring to set fire to the Macedonia Baptist Church on June 21, 1995.
The indictment alleges that the two were helped by Gary Christopher Cox, 23, and
Timothy Adron Welch, 24, also former Klansmen. On Wednesday, Cox and Welch admitted to burning the
Bloomville church, as well as the Mt. Zion AME Church in Greeley- ville the previ
The investigation, which is being conducted by the National Church Arson Task Force
formalized by President Clinton in June, revealed that Haley provided flammable liquids
to be used as an accelerant to burn the Macedonia Baptist Church. Rowell mixed them
together in a plastic jug and gave them to Cox and Welch to use in setting the fire.
Deval L. Patrick, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights, and James E. Johnson,
Assistant Secretary of the Treasury (Enforcement), the co-chairs of the National Church
Arson Task Force commended the efforts of prosecutors and investigators in this case.
"The burning of houses of worship strikes at a central tenet of our nation -- religious
freedom," said Patrick and Johnson. "Working together, state and federal authorities are
striking back. The growing number of arrests show that the hard work of the ATF, FBI, and
state and local investigators -- enhanced by additional resources provided by the
Administration and Congress -- is paying off."
Today's indictment also charges Haley and Rowell with setting a February 22, 1995,
fire at a Bloomville migrant camp, and the October 17, 1994, fire at the Clarendon
County Service Center. It further alleges that the two conspired to intimidate
Manuel Leroy Thompson, an African American resident of nearby Manning, by burning
his automobile on March 2, 1995. Finally, the indictment charges that Haley and
Rowell, who were motivated by the teachings of the K.K.K., made false statement
to acquire SKS automatic type firearms.
According to the indictment, the Ku Klux Klan "advocated the supremacy of white
persons over black, hispanic and other minority persons." It asserted that the K.K.K.
"taught its members that churches attended primarily by black persons promote the
interests of black persons to the detriment of white persons." It also advocated
that its membership arm itself with firearms to prepare for a race war between white
persons and black person.
Haley appeared on his own in court today, Rowell was arrested last night, and Cox
and Welch were arrested on state charges in June 1995, and have been in jail since that time.
If convicted on all charges, Haley faces a maximum 190 years in prison, and Rowell
faces a maximum 150 years in prison.
Since January 1, 1995, ATF and the FBI, together with state and local authorities,
have investigated 207 fires affecting houses of worship. Investigations reveal that
of those fires, 39 fires were accidental in nature, 54 have been closed by arrest with
69 individuals taken into custody. Investigations are continuing in 114 cases.
In the Southeast, since January 1995, 57 arson fires have been in African
American churches and 32 arson fires have been in non- African American churches.
An additional 8 African American church fires and 13 non-African American church
fires have been deemed accidental.
The investigation includes the U.S. Attorneys Office in South Carolina, the FBI
, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Justice Department's Civil Rights
Division, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, the Clarendon County Fire
Department and Sheriff's Office.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CR
FRIDAY, AUGUST 16, 1996 (202) 616-2777
TDD (202) 514-1888
TWO KLANSMEN INDICTED FOR BURNING SOUTH CAROLINA CHURCH
INDICTMENT FOLLOWS PLEAS BY TWO OTHER KLANSMEN
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