16-year-old girl arrested in plot to attack predominantly black church in Georgia | TribLIVE.com
U.S./World

16-year-old girl arrested in plot to attack predominantly black church in Georgia

Associated Press
1965204_web1_1965204-7deb7784ecbe4a388cfb3278dcc1e68f
AP
The Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Ga. A white 16-year-old girl is accused of plotting to attack a mostly black church in Gainesville, where police say she planned to kill worshippers because of their race.

ATLANTA — A white 16-year-old girl is accused of plotting to attack a mostly black church in a north Georgia city, where police say she planned to kill worshippers because of their race.

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church has a predominantly black congregation, Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said Tuesday in a statement.

“Our investigation indicated the church was targeted by the juvenile based on the racial demographic of the church members,” he said.

Students, school administrators and law officers worked together to thwart a “potentially horrific incident,” he added.

The plot came to light when Gainesville High School students told administrators the 16-year-old had a notebook with detailed plans to kill worshippers at the church, Parrish said.

“It just grieves my spirit on a number of different levels, one that the intentions of this young person were so calculated to do great harm against people who just simply had no knowledge of such a plot,” said The Rev. Rose Johnson Mackey, director of the Newtown Florist Club, a civil rights organization founded in Gainesville 70 years ago.

The girl is charged with criminal attempt to commit murder, the police chief said. She’s being held in a youth detention center in Gainesville.

Specific details of the alleged plot haven’t been released, but Parrish said it came to light Friday when school administrators contacted police.

“We’re just very pleased that our police department acted so swiftly, and the police department in conjunction with our school administrators were just on top of the situation,” Johnson said.

Gainesville is about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta. It’s a city of just over 40,000 people, about 17% of whom are African-American.

The alleged plot comes amid a long history of black churches being bombed, burned and shot up across the South — hate crimes that continue today.

White supremacist Dylann Roof fatally shot nine black church members during their Bible study lesson at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., during the summer of 2015. Roof later told FBI agents he had hoped the killings would perhaps start a race war.

More recently, the white son of a sheriff’s deputy was arrested in April and accused of a setting fires that destroyed three black churches in rural Louisiana. Holden Matthews is awaiting trial on arson and hate crimes charges in the Louisiana church burnings.

In the Georgia case, police did not release the girl’s name Tuesday.

Categories: News | World
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.