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The Rev. Mike McBride is the church's senior pastor.
"We are angry and we are upset, and there's nothing more dangerous in the world than righteous indignation" he says.
Melted trash bins and a scorched outside wall at “The Way” Christian Center in Berkeley. Believes the fire was deliberately set and was a hate crime. pic.twitter.com/e29xorcUYY— Eric Thomas (@ericthomaskgo) July 30, 2020
The Way Church has been around for forty years, and Pastor McBride has been a fervent civil rights activist in the community.
Damage to the building may appear slight, but authorities told McBride an accellerant was used. He believes someone was trying to burn down the church - because a Black Lives Matter banner was put up Tuesday afternoon. He says the fire happened Tuesday night.
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"We know this is a historical legacy of intimidation" he says.
McBride calls it a hate crime. He also held up a piece of paper - about the size of what you would find in a small notepad and says not only is he upset with the culprit, he's angry with the way police responded.
"The only notification I received, our church received, was this report slid underneath the front of our church" he said.
The pastor of “The Way” Christian Center believes someone set a fire there because they recently put up this Black Lives Matter Banner. pic.twitter.com/TiOJXOo5CS— Eric Thomas (@ericthomaskgo) July 30, 2020
ABC-7 News spoke with Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin who says he's disappointed that this happened in one of America's most progressive cities, and he too is disappointed in the police response.
"Just slipping your business card under the door is not acceptable. Any place of worship, whether it's a church or a synagogue, we have to take that very seriously as a potential hate crime" the mayor said.
Arreguin says he's told the city manager and police to investigate it as a hate crime, and to make the case a top priority.