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Mon May 28, 2012, 12:13 PM

Church which served Twin Cities peace and justice activists burned to ground in apparent arson

Last night the Walker Methodist Church in Minneapolis burned to the ground in what may have been arson. While the cause of the fire is still under investigation there are reports that a neighbor witnessed two people running from the church right before it became engulfed in flames.

I have visited the Walker Church on several occasions as did many other Twin Cities peace activists. The Walker church was known as a place that opened its doors to activist groups that were organizing peace and justice campaigns, groups such as the Welfare Rights Committee and Communities United Against Police Brutality had offices located there and their organizing materials were destroyed in the fire. Michelle Gross who serves as the director of Communities United Against Police Brutality says that the fire started near her group's office and she believes they may have been a prime target of the arsonists. While she does not rule out the possibility that the fire could have been caused by lightning, the circumstances around the fire do appear very suspicious.

The loss of this church is a major blow to the Twin Cities activist community, the people of Walker Church have been absolutely great about accommodating those who were working for change and it will be difficult to find another good meeting place that will be as open as they were. While they were a Methodist church people of many different faiths as well as atheists gathered there because they were so welcoming of so many different people. They are saying they are going to rebuild, but this is no doubt a major blow to their community.

If this was arson the people responsible are apprehended very quickly, five firefighters were injured trying to put out the blaze and people could have easily been killed. This was a serious attack on our community and its effects will be long felt, we can not allow this to slip under the rug.

Three of the five Minneapolis firefighters who were taken to a hospital after battling a raging blaze that destroyed a historic church Sunday night have been released, authorities said.

Deputy Fire Chief Harold Breffle said Monday that two other firefighters were still in Hennepin County Medical Center's burn unit, but that their injuries were not life-threatening. The three others were released overnight.

The department has not yet released the injured firefighters’ names.

Fire broke out about 8:20 p.m. Sunday at the Walker Community United Methodist Church. Flames raged for hours and drew hundreds of spectators and scores of firefighters.The cause has not been determined. Some people at the scene Sunday night speculated lightning was the culprit, while close neighbors said they thought it could be arson.


http://www.startribune.com/155042795.html

5 replies, 1805 views

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Reply Church which served Twin Cities peace and justice activists burned to ground in apparent arson (Original post)
Bjorn Against May 2012 OP
glinda May 2012 #1
Bjorn Against May 2012 #2
glinda May 2012 #3
backscatter712 May 2012 #4
Bjorn Against May 2012 #5

Response to Bjorn Against (Original post)

Mon May 28, 2012, 12:18 PM

1. News kept mentioning a lightening strike but who knows....

if intentional I hope they are caught. If accidental I hope they can figure out a way to continue serving the community.

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Response to glinda (Reply #1)

Mon May 28, 2012, 12:27 PM

2. Some people are saying lightning, but some witnesses don't believe that

The fire department is still investigating and they have not reported a cause yet, but witnesses saw two people running from the building right before it erupted in flames. While lightning is a possibility, the circumstances around the fire do look very suspicious so a full investigation is needed. The Walker Church was one of the primary organizing places for the Twin Cities activist community so I could definitely see it being a target for some sick right-wingers.

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Response to Bjorn Against (Reply #2)

Mon May 28, 2012, 12:40 PM

3. I agree. Investigate.

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Response to Bjorn Against (Reply #2)

Mon May 28, 2012, 12:43 PM

4. It it was arson, the fire dept. and forensics people would see signs.

There'd be traces of accelerants (like gasoline) in the rubble, for example. An arson fire would have significant differences from a fire started by a lightning strike.

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Response to backscatter712 (Reply #4)

Mon May 28, 2012, 12:44 PM

5. And there likely are traces of accelerants

The Fire Department has yet to release any information on their investigation yet, but I would expect a report from them to come fairly soon.

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