Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) sent a letter Aug. 11 to U.S. Attorney General William Barr condemning recent attacks on Catholic churches, parishes, and statues across the country, asking him to quickly identify and prosecute those who committed these crimes, the Daily Caller reported.

Kennedy’s letter noted that since the country’s protests began in May of this year, many ended in riots, “There have been at least 19 attacks on Catholics churches, statues, businesses, cemeteries, parishioners, and personnel. These acts are hostile to the nation’s founding principles, the fiber of what makes America great, and must end.” 

On Aug. 5, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) also sent a letter to Barr concerned about the number of allegations of attacks on Catholic churches.

“Since June, there have been nearly a dozen reported attacks on Catholic Churches around the nation. These disturbing attacks range from arson to the beheading of a statue of the Virgin Mary,” he wrote in his letter.

Kennedy highlighted the role the United States has played historically for believers of different faiths, who escaped just such religious persecution in their countries to come to the United States and enjoy the freedom of religion guaranteed by the Constitution.

Kennedy wrote, “To escape religious oppression, the pilgrims took a treacherous journey across the Atlantic to America, setting the stage for the eventual creation of the United States. The Founding Fathers considered freedom of religion so integral to the fabric of the nation that they codified it in the First Amendment to the Constitution. We cannot let a handful of people destroy this fundamental right.”

The Catholic volunteer organization Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) released a video about the fire at the Queen of Peace Catholic Sanctuary in Florida, an incident to which Kennedy also referred.

Witnesses at the sanctuary reported that a man drove through the door with a white minivan, got out, poured at least 10 gallons of gasoline while there were at least 10 people inside the church. A lady who was near the man tried to stop him, but he did not listen to her and even started throwing gasoline in her direction. He got into his car, threw a burning object and drove away.

The fire had been burning for at least half an hour when the firemen arrived. The police managed to capture the individual who was identified as Steven Shields. 

The church was partially destroyed. 

Video of the incident at the Queen of Peace Catholic Sanctuary in Florida.

In a previous Daily Caller report, similar incidents were reported in different states:

In Providence, Rhode Island, Keveon Gomera, 26, was charged in June with vandalism and assault with intent to commit a felony after he allegedly vandalized the graves of several Dominican friars and assaulted a security guard at Providence College, a Catholic college.

Sacramento, California is the site of the statue of St. Junipero Serra that was destroyed July 4. The California Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced the vandalism of the statue. 

San Gabriel, California’s San Gabriel Mission, a nearly 250-year-old Catholic mission, was heavily damaged by fire after a blaze destroyed the rooftop and most of its interior Saturday morning, July 11. 

In Boston, Massachusetts, police are investigating arson at St. Peter’s Parish where a statue of the Virgin Mary was set on fire Saturday night. 

The attacks on Catholics began after the former spokesman for Black Lives Matters called for the destruction of the statues of Jesus.

Shaun King, former spokesman for Black Lives Matters, published a series of tweets on June 22 asking his 1.1 million followers to destroy the statues of Jesus because they are a symbol of white supremacy and oppression.

King had to withdraw from the Marxist movement after they questioned whether he was a non-black person.