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3 Men Held In Mass. Election Night Church Fire

Three men who authorities say were angered about Barack Obama becoming the first black president are accused of torching a predominantly black church in Springfield hours after the election.

Benjamin Haskell, Michael Jacques and Thomas Gleason face civil rights charges. They have been ordered held without bail until a hearing next week. Gleason's father says his son is a "good kid" who was home the night of the fire.

The November blaze destroyed the Macedonia Church of God in Christ, which was under construction at the time.

State Police Col. Mark Delaney said the fire was "motivated by hatred."

According to an affidavit filed in federal court, the men initially denied involvement when questioned by police — then pointed the finger at the others for the idea to torch the church.

According to the affidavit, Haskell told investigators Jacques was angry about the election of Obama and thought "blacks and Puerto Ricans would now have more rights than whites."

The church's pastor, the Rev. Bryant Robinson, says the arrests give the church a sense of confidence the system doesn't allow people to get away with doing wrong.

This program aired on January 16, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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