Burning Bible discovered in Marion Square with cryptic message

Witness says he found flaming book surrounded by candles Saturday night

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Marion Square - WIKIMEDIA: AUDEVIVERE
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  • Marion Square

A burning Bible was discovered in Marion Square over the weekend.

According to a Charleston Police Department incident report, an officer on bicycle patrol found what appeared to be a circle of previously lit candles with a black Bible in the center of the circle. Several of the pages in the Bible had been burned, and there were ashes underneath the book. Outside of the circle of candles, the officer found a cardboard sign that "quoted Pope Nicholas V and asked, 'When the slave knows the book better than the master, what is the slave to do?' "Show the master the devil is a liar!'" according to the report. The cardboard was signed, "A free slave."

(The incident report does not indicate what quote was used, but Nicholas V is known for having given his blessing to the Portuguese enslavement of African people during the 15th century.)

The officer spoke with a witness who said he saw the Bible burning on Sat. July 4 at about 8 p.m. and walked over to put out the fire. The witness said he did not see who started the fire.

Marion Square has been the site of several protests since the June 17 mass shooting at nearby Emanuel AME Church. Black Lives Matter Charleston held a "funeral for white supremacy and terrorism" starting at the base of the John C. Calhoun monument, the Calhoun monument has been vandalized twice with red paint and spray-painted messages, and protesters have burned the Confederate and U.S. flags in the park.

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