A historic black church in Mississippi, the U.S., was burned on Tuesday night.
Authorities investigating a church burned in Greenville also found “Vote Trump
” spray-painted on the side. They said on Wednesday it was arson and being probed as a hate crime committed one week before the U.S. presidential election.
Mayor Errick D. Simmons called the attack on the century-old Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church “a heinous, hateful and cowardly act.”“This act is a direct assault on people’s right to freely worship. We will not rest until the culprit is found and fully prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,”
It's the latest violence during a presidential election cycle that has turned increasingly ugly. Last month, someone burned a Republican headquarters in North Carolina, spray-painting a message on the side of the building, “Nazi Republicans leave town or else.”
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant decried the burning as a “despicable crime against people of faith,”
saying he expected someone would be brought to justice.
The FBI has been notified of the incident, which is also being investigated by the state fire marshal's office, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and local authorities.“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,”
said spokesman Brett Carr
Police Chief Delando Wilson said investigators worked all night to collect evidence. “At this moment, they’re interviewing possible witnesses. We don’t have any suspects at this time. We are talking to a person of interest,”
The Rev. Carilyn F. Hudson, the pastor of Hopewell, said her congregation of 200 members plans to rebuild.“Our hearts are broken, but we are not angry. We are saddened, but we do know that all things work together for good to those that love the Lord,”