BLACK CHURCHES have historically been sources of strength, support and hope for African Americans — and that, as a result, has made them targets for racists and other hateful people. U.S. history is littered with destructive — and, too often, murderous — attacks on these peaceful places of worship, which makes all the more sickening the weekend events in the District of Columbia. The vandalism of Black churches in the nation’s capital during protests in support of President Trump and his mendacious claim of a stolen election are acts of religious and racial terror that must be condemned and — we hope — prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

D.C. police said they are investigating, potentially as hate crimes, incidents of vandalism and property damage that occurred at at least four churches Saturday night, after daytime rallies in support of Mr. Trump devolved into nighttime chaos — with 38 people arrested and four people stabbed, one critically. Post reporters gave vivid detail of throngs of protesters, including those with ties to white nationalism, roaming the streets and inciting fights. Incidents involving Black Lives Matter signs at two of the city’s oldest and most revered Black churches were caught on videos that were posted on Twitter.

Whose streets? Our streets!” were the words being chanted by a group that tore down a Black Lives Matter sign in front of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church at 15th and M streets NW. A group of people identified as Proud Boys, backward extremists known for inciting violence, is shown marching with a Black Lives Matter banner that had been taken from Asbury United Methodist Church, at the corner of 11th and K streets NW, and cheering as it was set on fire.

“It pained me especially to see our name, Asbury, in flames,” said a statement from the Rev. Ianther M. Mills, the church’s senior pastor. “For me it was reminiscent of cross burnings.” She asserted that if this had been a group of men of color marauding through the city and destroying property, they would have been followed and arrested. That unequal system of justice is the point made by the Black Lives Matter signs, and it is the very reason why those who would resort to intimidation and destruction to advance their twisted cause must be held to account.

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