Crime

Black Church Burned, 'Vote Trump' Written On Wall

| by Nik Bonopartis

A historically black church in the Mississippi Delta was set ablaze and vandalized with a message of support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

Firefighters received a call shortly after 9 p.m. on Nov. 1 alerting them to the situation. They arrived at Greenville's Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church to find the structure engulfed in flames, the Clarion-Ledger reported.

The phrase "Vote Trump" was also spray-painted on the side of the church in large letters.

The FBI was notified of the fire and is investigating it as a possible hate crime.

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It's not clear if the church was targeted by Trump supporters or by Trump opponents trying to stir up resentment for the Republican candidate. During the contentious election, both campaigns have accused the other of sowing chaos at each others' rallies, and earlier this month a GOP campaign office in North Carolina was firebombed and vandalized with swastikas, CNN reported.

Meanwhile, local authorities were focused on tracking down the person or people responsible, while fire investigators were trying to determine how the church was set ablaze.

“The cause and origin of the fire is under investigation," Fire Chief Ruben Brown Sr. told the Clarion-Ledger. "Samples have been taken.”

Police were speaking to "a person of interest" and were looking for witnesses, police Chief Delando Wilson said. However, police had no solid suspects and didn't believe there were any surveillance cameras in the area that might have footage of the alleged arsonist.

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The congregation, which counts about 200 people among its members, plans on rebuilding the church, according to the Rev. Carilyn Hudson.

“Our hearts are broken, but we are not angry,” she said. “We are saddened, but we do know that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord.”

Sources: The Clarion-Ledger, CNN / Photo credit: Angie Quezada/Facebook

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