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Former Klansmen Indicted in Burning of Two Black Churches

August 16, 1996

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) _ Two former Klansmen were indicted Friday on federal civil rights charges for allegedly plotting the burning of a black church by two cohorts.

Arthur Allen Haley and Hubert ``Herbert″ Lavon Rowell were charged in a fire last summer at Macedonia Baptist Church in Bloomville.

Haley, a former Klan leader who said he left the group a year ago, organized rallies attended by Gary C. Cox and Timothy A. Welch. Cox, 22, and Welch, 24, pleaded guilty Wednesday to burning Macedonia Baptist and a church in Greeleyville.

Haley selected Macedonia Baptist to be burned, and Rowell instructed Cox and Welch how to use a plastic jug of flammable liquid to set the fire, prosecutors said.

Haley and Rowell were also accused of burning an empty Hispanic migrant camp and a black man’s car in 1995.

Haley’s lawyer, Dale Cobb, denied all the charges.

In an interview with The State newspaper in Columbia Thursday, Haley said the government is targeting Klan leaders in its probe of church fires.

``It’s a setup to get somebody,″ Haley said. ``They are after the Klan and they’re not going to stop.″

Horace King, a South Carolina KKK grand dragon, said in an affidavit Thursday the Klan had nothing to do with the church burnings.

``The destruction of any church ... is an un-Christian act and contrary to the goals and beliefs of the Christian Knights,″ King said.

More than 70 suspicious fires have broken out at church properties belonging to predominantly black congregations in the South since 1995. An equal number of fires have been reported at white churches in the region.

There is evidence of racism in at least 18 of the fires, but race has been ruled out in more than two dozen other cases.

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