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Fire destroys mostly black Kentucky church

Fire destroyed a small church formerly used by a predominantly black congregation and investigators who found a kicked-in back door say it might be arson.

However, Kentucky State Police said there was no evidence Tuesday's fire was racially motivated, and people throughout the town of about 6,000 say there have been no overt acts of racism.

"We're considering the fact it's a hate crime," said Trooper Bryan Pitney.

He said there was no racist graffiti found and no threatening telephone calls or letters sent to the western Kentucky church.

Arson also was suspected in a fire Tuesday in Arizona that damaged two trailers used for classrooms at the Tucson Full Gospel Church, which serves the city's Korean community. The church had received no threats or indications of racial problems, said Pastor John Lee.

There have been more than 70 suspicious fires at church properties belonging to predominantly black congregations in Southern states since 1995. An equal number of fires have been reported at white churches in the region.

There is evidence of racism in at least 18 of the fires. Racial motivation has been ruled out in more than two dozen others.

Also Tuesday, a civil-rights group in Texas said a black teen didn't understand his rights when he confessed he set fire to a predominantly black church.

NAACP spokesman Bill Glenn said officers knew Mark Anthony Young, 18, was learning-impaired.

Young faces a state arson charge in connection with a vacant house fire and a federal arson charge for the burning of a Greenville church.

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