$50G reward offered in alleged union-related arson at Quaker meeting house in Philly

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A $50,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest in connection to an arson at a Quaker meeting house in Philadelphia under construction with nonunion labor.

The reward, offered by the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., stems from a Dec. 20 fire at a Quaker meeting house at 20 E. Mermaid Lane in the city’s Chestnut Hill section. Vandals cut bolts and used torches on structural columns in the future meeting house's community room, Philadelphia police officials said, and also set fire to a crane on the property.

Police sources told the Philadelphia Inquirer that they believe the building was targeted because it was being built by nonunion laborers. Damage was reportedly estimated at $500,000.

"I absolutely think it is a union issue," Philadelphia Police Lt. George McClay told the newspaper.

The incident drew the Philadelphia Fire Department, a bomb squad and representatives from the Police Civil Affairs Unit. The site is the future worship space for the Chestnut Hill Friends Meeting House, said Rob Reeves, whose company is the general contractor for the project.

"I have a strong suspicion it's union people," Reeves told Newsworks. "The issue here is violence and bullying."

Chestnut Hill Friends broke ground on the $6.2 million site on May 15 after raising $3 million for the project, which also won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the William Penn Foundation.

Anyone with information about the fire should call (610) 279-6666.