A woman was arrested on Thursday after dousing Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home in Atlanta, Georgia, with gasoline during an attempt to set the home on fire.
The 26-year-old woman, whose name has not been released, is charged with criminal attempt to commit arson and criminal attempt to damage government property. She could also face federal charges in connection with the incident.
Atlanta police officers responded to Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home shortly after 5:45 p.m. on Thursday following reports of vandalism. Atlanta Police Chief Darin Schierbaum told reporters that two tourists from Utah told officers they observed the woman dousing plants, the porch and the front door of the home with what smelled like gasoline before they intervened upon seeing her attempting to ignite a lighter.
Two off-duty New York City Police officers visiting the city then detained the woman until Atlanta Police officers arrived at the scene.
Video footage shows officers detaining the woman on the ground, according to Fox 5 Atlanta.
Atlanta Fire Department Battalion Chief Jerry DeBerry told reporters that, after the fuel was poured, the home could have caught fire in a matter of seconds. The fire department’s HAZMAT team worked to clean up the gasoline on the property.
The home is located along Auburn Avenue just blocks from the King Center, King National Historical Park, and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church. The home is currently under renovation and closed to visitors until 2025.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s birth home, a framed two-story Queen-Anne style structure, was built in 1895 and has played a vital role in commemorating the early life of Martin Luther King Jr. and his siblings.