Phelps Calls Fire "Hate Crime"

The pastor of the Westboro Baptist Church has asked Attorney general Mike Mukasey to treat the fire at their home over the weekend as a "hate crime."

Pastor Fred Phelps sent the Attorney General's office a letter Sunday claiming "[t]here is evidence that hatred of our religion was the motivation, in part at least."

The letter calls upon the Department of Justice, as well as the other law enforcement agencies who received copies of the letter, to involve themselves in the investigation and treat it as a violation of Federal Civil Rights and Hate Crime legislation. State Attorney General Stephen Six and Shawnee Co. District Attorney Robert Hecht were also listed as recipients.

In the letter, Phelps asserts the fire began as two elderly people slept inside the church; and, though Phelps credits the rapid response of the Topeka Fire Dept., he states that preliminary estimates range from $20,000 to $30,000 in damages.

Investigators believe the fire began when two large trash cans were set on fire as well as a garage and wooden privacy fence.


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