In a Danville, Virginia court room earlier this week, a young white man plead guilty to torching a predominantly black church to the ground.
Jean-Claude Bridges, 18, appeared in federal court to enter a plea of guilt for starting a fire that destroyed New Holy Deliverance Outreach Ministry, a predominantly black Virginia church.
At the hearing, U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy stated that Bridges confessed that “he burned down the church because of the race, color and ethnicity of its congregation.” Heaphy continued, saying:
“Mr. Bridges’ racial bias led him to commit the dangerous crime of arson. When he set fire to the New Holy Deliverance Outreach Ministry, he endangered neighbors and first responders. This act of prejudice offended the entire community. This office will protect the civil rights of everyone and vigorously prosecute crimes like that committed by Mr. Bridges. Racism has no place in Axton or anywhere else in the Western District of Virginia.”
Bridges was 17 years of age at the time he destroyed New Holy Deliverance Outreach Ministry. However, before pleading guilty, a federal court approved a request made by the U.S. government for Bridges to be tried as an adult. At his sentencing, Bridges faces a 20 year sentence in federal prison.