, WASHINGTON, December 23 – A white man was sentenced on Thursday to nearly 14 years prison for setting a predominantly black church on fire to protest the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American US president, the Justice Department said.
Early November 5, 2008, within hours of Obama being elected president, Michael Jacques and his co-conspirators burned down “the Macedonia Church of God in Christ’s newly constructed building where religious services were to be held for its predominantly African-American congregation,” the Justice Department said.
The building, located in Springfield, in the northeastern state of Massachusetts, was almost complete at the time of the fire, but the blaze “destroyed nearly the entire structure, leaving only the metal superstructure and a small portion of the front corner intact.”
Jacques, now 27, was sentenced Thursday in Boston to 166 months in prison followed by four years of supervised release and ordered to pay more than $1.5 million in restitution for civil rights charges stemming from the arson, the Justice Department said.
Jacques was found guilty in mid-April of conspiracy against civil rights, damage or destruction of religious property, and use of fire to commit a felony for his involvement in the arson, the Justice Department said.
“Racial violence and intimidation have no place in our society,” said Thomas Perez, a senior official at the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
Jacques’s co-conspirators, Benjamin Haskell and Thomas Gleason, pleaded guilty to civil rights charges in June. Haskell was sentenced to nine years prison in November, while Gleason is scheduled to be sentenced in January.