In an incident reminiscent of the October firebombing of the North Carolina GOP headquarters in Orange County, the traditionally all-black Hopewell Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi was torched and vandalized in an alleged act of arson Tuesday night. According to Angie Quezada of Delta Daily News, who photographed the aftermath, the pro-Donald Trump graffiti tag read “Vote Trump” — leading many in the press and on social media to assume the act was political and racist in nature.
Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown stated the fire began around 9:15 p.m. local time, and that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the state fire marshals and “several other outside agencies” were involved in the investigation. No other details were provided at the time to the Huffington Post and other outlets, though Talking Points Memo managed to interview Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons, who called the incident a “hateful and cowardly act”:
“This is a direct assault on people’s right to freely worship,” Simmons added. “We are going to investigate the matter with all deliberate speed and will not rest until the perpetrator is arrested and prosecuted.”
Simmons also claimed the alleged arson was “being investigated as a hate crime.”
There were no reported injuries at the scene of the fire, and no suspects have been named yet by the various agencies investigating the matter.