Police in Louisiana have taken 21-year-old Holden Matthews into custody in connection with the fires that burned down three historic black churches in the St. Landry Parish area. Holden is the son of a St. Landry Parish deputy. [h/t The Daily Beast]
A Facebook page that appears to belong to Matthews shows he was active in black metal and pagan groups and appeared familiar with a far-right figure named Varg Vikernes, a metal musician and former Neo-Nazi who spent 15 years in prison for burning churches in Norway and killing another musician. Vikernes said the church burnings were retribution for Christian crimes against Vikings.
Matthews had recently posted a picture of a gun and a knife, captioning it with “I carry this…..maybe not legally but I only truly follow the law of Odin….. which says as you said,arm yourself…… Odins advice> modern law.”
Over the course of ten days, St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church were burned to the ground on March 26, April 2 and April 4, respectively. Police told reporters they were treating the fires as “suspicious.”
“The spike in church burnings in the Southern states is a reflection of emboldened racial rhetoric and tension spreading across the country,” said NAACP president Derrick Johnson in a statement, according to ABC News. “But this is nothing new. For decades, African-American churches have served as the epicenter of survival and a symbol of hope for many in the African-American community. As a consequence, these houses of faith have historically been targets of violence.”
“If you participated in this, you have succumbed to evil,” said Louisiana Representative Clay Higgins, according to the Lafayette Daily Advertiser. “You will be caught. You will be arrested. You will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”