The city of Jackson’s fire department has opened an arson investigation concerning seven fires intentionally set in and around Jackson State University’s baseball field. Two of the attacks involved local Black churches, including Greater Bethlehem Temple Church and Epiphany Lutheran Church at 1230 Isaiah Montgomery Street. Sources identified none of the locations as polling places, but residents found the timing of the arson and its location in Black neighborhoods chilling.
Sen. Sollie Norwood, D-Jackson, was on the scene of the fire at Epiphany Lutheran Church and told reporters he was “disappointed and disheartened” that the arsonist set the fire for Election Day.
“We have somebody who is busy setting fires rather than focusing on how to fire folks up and getting them out to the polls to vote to better Jackson,” Norwood told WJTV News.
Congressional candidate Shuwaski Young, who is running for Mississippi’s Third Congressional District, called the fires “cowardly actions” that invoked “historical acts of terrorism.”
“We will not be deterred and will not be intimidated,” Young stated. “We will not allow domestic terrorists to suppress our right to vote.”
The City of Jackson was unable to confirm the motivation behind the arson early the next day. Assistant Fire Chief Patrick Armon told reporters that “no polling places were affected.” However, Lighthouse/Black Girl Projects Advocacy and Outreach Director Angela Grayson told voters to ignore the attacks and vote.
“We don’t know yet if these attacks were politically motivated, random, or the result of mental illness, but we Black women are taking the fires as a serious threat that will not deter us,” Grayson said. “We know the importance of lifting our voices and voting, and we know the ballot is how we’ll ultimately get access to adequate health care, equal pay, fully funded education and policy makers that represent Black women.”