‘Vote Trump’ painted on black church set ablaze in US
Washington, Nov 3 (IANS) A predominantly African-American church was badly burned is the US state of Mississippi, with the words “Vote Trump” spray-painted on the side of the building, police said.
A 911 call reporting the fire at Hopewell Baptist Church in Greenville came in at about 9.15 p.m. on Tuesday. Firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze, CNN reported.
Most of the damage to the 111-year-old church was to the sanctuary, pastor Carilyn Hudson said at a news conference.
“We do believe that God will allow us to build another sanctuary in that same place,” she said, though the extent of the damage was unclear.
There were no reports of injuries; no one had been in the building since about 1 p.m. earlier on Tuesday, Hudson said.
Greenville Police Chief Delando Wilson told CNN that police brought in a person of interest Wednesday afternoon and “are interviewing this person to determine if they had any participation in this event or if we can clear them.”
Fire Chief Ruben Brown said an investigation led to the conclusion that the fire was intentional.
“Accidental was ruled out,” he said.
An $11,000 reward is being offered for information that leads to an arrest and prosecution.
Greenville city, about 33,000 near the Arkansas border, comprises 78 per cent African-Americans, according to a recent census. Surrounding Washington county is 71 per cent.
A GoFundMe account set up to help the church rebuild had garnered more than 2,300 donations totalling $87,000 by Wednesday evening, far surpassing a $10,000 goal.