For Immediate Release
Arsonist Sets Fire to Church of Prominent Bay Area Pastor
Pastor to Hold Press Conference on July 30 at 10:30 a.m. local time
BERKELEY, CA — More than a year after a string of arsons obliterated Black churches in Louisiana, the congregation of a prominent Bay area pastor and racial justice advocate has been targeted by an arsonist. Pastor Michael McBride, who leads the LIVE FREE gun violence prevention campaign and who co-founded the Black Church PAC, received a call from one of his ministers the morning of July 29. The minister found burned trash bins and property damage to the church building. McBride, who has traveled the country challenging white supremacy, had just hung a Black Lives Matter banner from his church, The Way Church. Hours later the church was set afire. Photos show the aftermath of the blaze; trash cans set afire, the side of the church and the concrete in the surrounding area charred by fire. Pastor McBride will host a press conference outside the church on Thursday, July 30 at 10:30 a.m. PST. Persons outside of Berkeley, can join the press conference via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IiDgQZnCQB2L0eXr9NSWnw.
A neighbor reported seeing a suspicious person setting fire in the rear of the building. He and his roommate called the local fire department. Firefighters and police officers arrived and extinguished the blaze, yet failed to notify the pastor or other church officials.
McBride is now considering whether his decades long work challenging police brutality, registering people of faith to vote, or speaking out against white supremacy irritated the suspected arsonist, or whether they were angered by the Black Lives Matter sign hanging from the church. He is also questioning why the police department did not contact anyone regarding the fire at his church, opting instead to slide a card under the front door.
“For decades church fires were used as a means of terrorizing Black clergy and the Black community. I guess in Berkeley, it’s not something worthy of special attention by law enforcement officials” said Pastor Michael McBride, campaign director of the LIVE FREE gun violence prevention campaign and co-founder of the Black Church PAC. “Regardless of the intentions of the suspect, we will not be silenced or intimidated. Were it not for an alert and courageous neighbor, my entire church could have been burned to the ground.”
WHO: Pastor Michael McBride, The Way Christian Church
WHAT: Press Conference re Attempted Church Burning
WHEN: Thursday, July 30 at 10:30 a.m. PT
WHERE: 1305 University Avenue, Berkeley, CA (Zoom for persons outside of Berkeley)
Contact: Jennifer R. Farmer, firstname.lastname@example.org