Historic Black Church Vandalized in East Texas


Officials are investigating the burning of a cross in front of a historic African-American church in Alto, Tex., on Sunday, but have not deemed it a hate crime.

Pastor Bill Burton of St. Thomas A.M.E. Church in Alto, Tex., told KYTX that he found burning tree limbs making a cross formation in front of . In addition to the burning cross, a window was broken and a water line was damaged. Despite the damage to the church, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department says it does not appear the limbs were used to burn down the church. Sheriff James Campbell said they were set up far from the church, so it did not appear that it was an attempt to set the the church on fire, but Burton disagrees.

“When I saw the cross burning, it was heart wrenching,” Burton said, and that it “Just brought back the 60s to my mind, back when they used to burn crosses at different churches”

Despite the incident at the century old church, Pastor Burton expects to hold church services on Sunday and said that he will not have his congregation live in fear.

The Sheriff’s department has stated the crime is not what it appears to be, but according to Pastor Burton, “When you burn a cross on church ground that speaks for itself”.