Mississippi church burned, vandalized
with 'Vote Trump'
Send a link to a friend
[November 03, 2016]
By Therese Apel
JACKSON, Miss. (Reuters) - A historic black
church in Mississippi was burned and spray-painted with "Vote Trump" and
authorities said on Wednesday it was arson and being probed as a hate
crime committed one week before the U.S. presidential election.
Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown Sr. told a news conference on
Wednesday afternoon that investigators had determined the fire at
Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church was "intentionally set."
"Samples and evidence have been collected from inside the church and are
being analyzed to determine the accelerant or ignition source," Brown
Earlier in the day he said no one was injured in the Tuesday evening
blaze, but the church was extensively damaged.
"We're investigating this as a hate crime," Greenville Police Chief
Delando Wilson told a news conference early on Wednesday. "We feel that
the quote on the church is intimidating.
"It tries to push your beliefs on someone else, and this is a
predominantly black church and no one has a right to try to influence
the way someone votes in this election.”
Wilson told the Wall Street Journal that police on Wednesday evening
were interviewing a "person of interest" in connection with the fire but
the individual had not been charged.
Wilson did not immediately return a call or email.
Black churches in the U.S. South have long been a base of support for
the Democratic Party.
During the U.S. civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, southern
black churches were often targets for arson and bombings by white
"The FBI Jackson Division is aware of the situation in Greenville, and
we are working with our local, state and federal law enforcement
partners to determine if any civil rights crimes were committed," the
agency said in a statement.
[to top of second column]
Hopewell Baptist Church is damaged by fire and graffiti in
Greenville, Mississippi, U.S., November 2, 2016. Courtesy Angie
Quezada/Delta Daily News via REUTERS
"This act is a direct assault of people's right to freely worship,"
Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons said in a statement.
The town of some 33,000 people is about 100 miles (160 kms)
northwest of Jackson.
"The act that happened left our hearts broken," Pastor Carolyn
Hudson told the news conference, noting that the church has a
The Mississippi Republican Party declined to comment.
In October, the Orange County Republican Party's office in
Hillsborough, North Carolina, was set on fire and a graffiti message
left nearby said "leave town or else."
No arrests have been made in that incident, which Indiana Governor
Mike Pence, the Republican vice presidential candidate, called
(Additional reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles, Writing by
Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Alistair Bell and Toni Reinhold)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.