US federal authorities to investigate white supremacist conspiracy

Acting under heavy pressure from black ministers, the US federal authorities said yesterday they are looking into the possibility of a white supremacist conspiracy in the burning of black churches across the South. "Given the pattern, we would be nuts not to look at a conspiracy," the Assistant Treasury Secretary for Enforcement, James Johnson, said after a visit from church leaders who were enraged about the fires that have destroyed about 30 black churches in the South over the past 18 months.

After a meeting with the Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin, Rev Mac Charles Jones, of the National Council of Churches, said the government may have to declare a state of emergency to halt the burnings. Police in Charlotte, North Carolina, announced they had arrested a 13-year-old white girl for starting a fire that destroyed a black church there last week. Washington - Reuter

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