Man Who Set Fire to Black Church In Protest Of Obama’s Election Sentenced To Four Years In Jail

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Ponsor sentenced 24-year-old Thomas Gleason to four and a half years in prison after he helped burn down a mostly African-American church “to protest against Barack Obama’s election as the nation’s first black president.” Motivated by “racial resentment,” Gleason, along with two others, set fire to a new church in Springfield, Massachusetts, in November 2008. There were no congregants inside but some firefighters were injured while trying to put out the fire. Gleason apologized in court for the “incredibly stupid” act and for the “pain and frustration” he caused the church and his family. He was ordered to pay almost $1.7 million in restitution, including $124,000 to the church. U.S. authorities said the hate crime was “the only one of its kind on election night.”