BERKELEY, Calif. (KRON) – Pastor Michael McBride at The Way Church believes his church was targeted because of the Black Lives Matter sign they put up.
He says in the 40 years the church has been here, nothing like this has ever happened before, and the day the sign went up, that fire was set hours later.
The fire was set in the back of the church.
According to police, witnesses told them early Wednesday they saw a person set a trash bin on fire in the back.
The fire was reported a little before 1 a.m. at the church on University Avenue.
Police said a witness reported seeing the suspect standing over the fire then walking away eastbound on University.
The suspect was possibly a man and was described wearing a tan poncho or jacket with reflective material.
Pastor McBride not only believes this fire was set because of the sign, but because he and his church members are also very outspoken against injustices in the community in Berkeley.
They have led several protests against racism and police shootings.
Pastor McBride discussed the historical implications of churches being set on fire in this country, and how he believes the church was targeted for standing up for what’s right. He said he would like whoever started this fire to be charged with a hate crime.
An arson investigation is underway.
Anyone with information is asked to call Berkeley police’s Property Crimes Unit at 510-981-5737.