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Another South Carolina church has been destroyed 20 years after the Ku Klux Klan burned it down

On Tuesday evening around 8:35pm EST, Mt. Zion AME Church was engulfed in flames once again, becoming the 7th predominately Black church to burn within a week. Located in Greeleyville, South Carolina, Mt. Zion AME is the sister church of the historic Emanuel AME, where all African Methodist Episcopal churches evolved from. “Mother Emanuel” is also the church where 9 people were massacred by Dylann Roof, 55 miles away.

Mt. Zion AME Church becomes seventh church to burn in the South since the AME church shooting. Mt. Zion AME was devoured by a fire ignited by Ku Klux Klan members Gary Cox and Timothy Welch in 1995. Four days before setting the church on fire, the two arsonists had been convicted of attempted manslaughter for stabbing an African-American man multiple times.

State Law enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said officials are investigating the fire, citing that there was a storm that may have triggered possible lightening. Keel said despite this he was unsure of the cause of the massive fire. Mt. Zion member Robert Murray said like many Black churches down South lately, the church had been receiving threats after the Charleston Church Massacre.

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Mt. Zion AME was one of almost 70 Black churches that burned during a string of fires between 1995 and 1996. At the time, former President Bill Clinton stepped in and a national task force was created to investigate church arsons. Clinton spoke at the re-dedication ceremony for Mt. Zion in 1997 saying,

I want to ask every citizen in America to say we are not going back, we are not slipping back to those dark days.”

-Abesi Manyando(@abesipr)