Cooperative Baptists are standing with a black Mississippi church set ablaze and vandalized with the words “Vote Trump” on Tuesday. And authorities announced today they have identified a person of interest in the arson attack.
The city of Greenville, Miss., reported that its fire department was dispatched to Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church at 9:16 p.m. Nov. 1. Firefighters found the church engulfed in flames upon arrival.
And that wasn’t all.
“The church was vandalized with the words ‘Vote Trump’ spray-painted on the side of the church,” the city said on its website.
The following day, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Mississippi posted a statement on its Facebook page condemning the crime and also expressing compassion for the congregation and the community.
“To see a historic African-American church burned in our home state of Mississippi brings the horror of our history profoundly into our present,” CBF Mississippi said.
If the fire is determined to be arson, then it is an act of domestic terrorism meant to “intimidate and terrify” not only the church but blacks across Mississippi, the organization said.
“Additionally, having the name of a presidential candidate spray painted on the side brings us to despair.”
Greenville officials also condemned the incident.
“This matter is being investigated as a hate crime,” Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons said in a statement. “This act is a direct assault of people’s right to freely worship.”
CBS News reported today that Greenville police spoke with a man on Wednesday about the church fire and vandalism. However, they declined to call him a suspect in the case.