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             In December 1994, a flyer was tacked to the door of the Macedonia Baptist Church in Bloomville, South Carolina. The message on the door of this African-American church was an announcement of a Ku Klux Klan rally. Six months later, at night on June 20, 1995, the Macedonia Baptist Church was burned to the ground. Earlier that same morning, another African-American Church, the Mount Zion AME Church in nearby Greelyville, S.C., had also burned to the ground. Local police arrested two Caucasians, Christopher Cox, 22, and Timothy Adron Welch, 23, in connection with the fires. The county sheriff, Hoyt Collins, said Welch was carrying a membership card for the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, one of the most active white supremacist groups in the state, when he was arrested. Indicted for arson under state law, Cox and Welch have pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing. Meanwhile, two former Klansmen who federal authorities say masterminded the burning of the predominately black church in Bloomville were indicted recently on civil rights violations. The indictment also charges the two men with burning a Hispanic migrant camp in Manning, S.C. From January 1, 1995, through June 27, 1996, there were 73 suspicious fires or acts of desecration at African-American churches. For African-Americans and all Americans of good will, this wave of church burnings has prompted outrage and alarm. And it is awakening bitter memories of racist violence during the civil rights struggle - particularly the 1963 bombing of the Sixth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, that killed four young girls. Appalling as it is, however, the searing image of burning churches stands for an even larger problem, the persistence of violent crimes against virtually every racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minority, as well as against women.

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