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Opelousas community reacts to new hate crime charges

Posted at 10:18 PM, Apr 15, 2019
and last updated 2020-02-04 17:06:33-05

Holden Matthews is now being charged with three hate crimes. That, on top of two counts of simple arson and one count of aggravated arson.

KATC’s Justice Henderson spoke with some in the Opelousas community about their reactions to the new charges.

“I lived in the civil rights movement back in the 60s, I worked in the Civil Rights movement. I never, ever, saw first hand the amount of destruction that could be caused by hate,” Isabella Broussard Thompson said.

Thompson says she is grateful that Matthews is now charged with hate crimes. She visited Mount Pleasant Baptist Church on Monday, to check on the grave of a family member. She said seeing the damage up close made her ill.

“This is truly what it is. The devastations have touched our community unlike… words can never really explain how painful these feelings are,” Thompson said.

Others aren’t so surprised.

“I think he should get what he deserves. It was wrong and pointless, you know,” Raymond Thibodeaux said.

Some want to see the judicial process unfold.

“Just cause he’s charged with that, that doesn’t mean he’s been prosecuted. So, they still have a long way to go to find out all the evidence and everything,” John Guilbeaux said.

“I hope and pray that these people can find some peace with it and move on with their lives, and rebuild the church. The church is the people… not the building,” Guilbeaux said.