Two Klansmen Indicted for Burning SC Church
FRIDAY, AUGUST 16, 1996					(202) 616-2777
							TDD (202) 514-1888

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 ous day.

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.

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