The Hopewell Baptist Church after the fire. Vandals allegedly wrote “Vote Trump” on the side in spray paint. (Photo: Hopewell Baptist Church)
The fire that destroyed a historic black church in Greenville, Mississippi, where vandals allegedly spray painted “Vote Trump” on the side has been ruled arson by federal authorities.
Local, state and federal authorities are offering an reward of up to $11,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the fire of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church.
ATF investigators ruled the fire to be intentionally set and the Greenville Police Department called the incident a “form of voting intimidation.”
Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons called it a “hateful and cowardly act” and a “direct assault of people’s right to freely worship.” He assured the public that those responsible would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is also assisting local and state law enforcement agencies with the investigation, and although authorities have spoken with a person of interest, there are no suspects in custody at this time.
A Go Fund Me account has been set up to collect donations to repair the historic 111-year-old building. In two days, the fundraising effort has raised more than $203,700, well surpassing the original goal of just $10,000.
If anyone has any information about this crime, they are asked to report it to the lead agency, Greenville Police Department, at 662-378-TIPS.