HAMPTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A fire that heavily damaged a Bay City-area furniture store used as a meeting place for a white supremacist group was a case of arson, state police said Friday.
No one was inside Marquiss Quality Furniture store in Bay County during the fire early Monday, and no injuries were reported.
State police Sgt. Lenny Jaskulka said investigators are treating the case as arson.
A group organized by Christian Identity teacher James P. Wickstrom met at the store for about three years. Wickstrom moved to Tennessee in June 2003, but returned to the area a few months ago.
The teachings and practices of the Christian Identity movement are incompatible with Biblical, mainstream Christianity
Adherents believe present day Anglo-Saxon people are direct descendants of the ancient Israelites, and have thus inherited all God’s promises to Abraham and his descendants. The movement consists of a number of groups, most of which promote hate by considering whites to be the superior race (“white supremacy
The store owners have said that their business, home and lives began being threatened after Wickstrom’s meetings were publicized.
The Christian Identity movement espouses a doctrine that whites are God’s chosen people, calls for violence against Jews and denigrates blacks and homosexuals.
A woman answering Wickstrom’s cell phone Friday said he was not available for comment, and a message left for store owners Mary and LeRoy Marquiss was not immediately returned.