Another fake hate crime

31church-blog225 Reading a hard copy of the New York Times this morning, I find Monica Davey’s story “Suspect is charged in St. Louis church fires.” Davey updates on an investigation of church arsons that have been suspected of reflecting racial animus:

A man was accused on Friday of setting two fires at St. Louis churches, part of a series of seven arson attacks that had left places of worship around the St. Louis region on edge.

The man, David Lopez Jackson, 35, was charged with two counts of second-degree arson in connection to fires this month at Ebenezer Lutheran Church and at New Life Missionary Baptist Church, the authorities said. They said he was also considered a suspect in five other fires that were set in the doorways and entrances of churches during October.

Davey’s story comes with the mug shot above. I wondered whether she would mention that the suspect is black. Not wanting to go too far out on a limb, she puts it this way: “The authorities said Mr. Jackson was black.”

Davey’s story buries the hate crime aspect of the investigation, but the AP includes this salient point:

The fires spurred a hate-crime investigation to determine if the attacks were motivated by race or religion. But the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives downplayed that possibility in a statement on Friday.

“There appears to be no indication of a hate crime or sign … any one particular Christian denomination or ethnic group was being targeted,” the federal agency said.

Hate may well have been involved with the crimes, just not the kind the authorities feared.