Louisiana man charged with federal hate crimes in fires at historically black churches
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A Louisiana man who has been charged in connection with fires at three historically black churches was also charged with federal hate crimes by a federal grand jury in an indictment unsealed Wednesday. 

The indictment said that Holden Matthews, 21, intentionally set fire to three churches in the span of 10 days, according to a Justice Department statement. Matthews is the son of a St. Landry Parish sheriff’s deputy.

The federal grand jury charged him with three counts of intentional damage to religious property and three counts of using fire to commit a felony.


“Churches are vital places of worship and fellowship for our citizens and bind us together as a community. Our freedom to safely congregate in these churches and exercise our religious beliefs must be jealously guarded," said U.S. Attorney David Joseph in the statement. 

"Today we are one step closer to justice for the parishioners of these churches and the St. Landry Parish communities affected by these acts," he added. 

Matthews had previously received state charges, including hate crime charges in the fires. He has pleaded not guilty to the state charges. 

The churches received a combined $2.6 million to rebuild after more than 38,000 people donated to a GoFundMe campaign following the fires.