For Immediate Release
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
TDD: (202) 514-1888
Three Men Indicted for Federal Civil Rights Violations in Arson of Islamic Center in Tennessee
WASHINGTON — A federal grand jury in Nashville returned a five-count indictment today charging three men for their role in the arson of the Islamic Center in Columbia, Tenn., on Feb. 9, 2008, the Justice Department announced. Eric Ian Baker, Jonathan Edward Stone and Michael Corey Golden were charged with a conspiracy to violate civil rights, destroying a house of worship, possession of a destructive device, use of fire to destroy a building and use of fire to commit a felony.
The indictment alleges that between Feb. 2, 2008, and Feb. 9, 2008, Baker, Stone and Golden, all of whom are said to be members of a white supremacist group known as the “The Aryan Alliance,” conspired with one another to burn a mosque known as the Islamic Center in Columbia, Tenn. The indictment further alleges that during the early morning hours of Feb. 9, 2008, Baker drove Golden and Stone to a convenience store in Columbia where they made Molotov cocktails filled with gasoline. According to the indictment, Golden and Stone later hurled the Molotov cocktails into the Islamic Center setting the building on fire while Baker spray painted phrases, which included “White Power,” onto the exterior of the mosque.
The case was investigated by the Columbia, Tenn., Police Department; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal McDonough and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Jonathan Skrmetti.
An indictment is only an allegation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.