SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) – Three white men are held without bail after a hearing in federal court in Springfield on charges they torched a predominantly black church hours after Barack Obama was elected president.

Authorities say Benjamin Haskell, Michael Jacques and Thomas Gleason – all Springfield men in their 20s – initially denied involvement, then blamed each other for the idea to burn down the Macedonia Church of God in Christ.

A judge continued the hearing until Wednesday and said he is considering setting $100,000 bail with electronic monitoring for the men.

The Nov. 5 fire at the church, which was under construction, destroyed the building with $2 million in damage.

The men were charged Friday in a criminal complaint with violating a civil rights conspiracy statute that makes it illegal to injure, threaten or intimidate anyone from exercising their civil rights. No pleas were entered at Friday’s hearing.


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