On Tuesday night there was an attack on the black community in the city of Greenville, Mississippi. The fire department received a call around 9:15 at night that the church was set a flames. As help reached the scene they did not only find smoke pouring from the windows, but a spray painted “vote trump” worn across the side of the burning church.
The Hopewell Baptist church was a historically known black church in the community. It was determined by the Chief of the Greenville Fire Department, Ruben Brown, that the fire was intentionally set, making this tragedy planned. The FBI as well as the police department are now investigating the cause and significance of this fire, offering an $11,000 reward to anyone reporting information. Although many are able to see this act of arson as a hate crime, the FBI are still working to determine the implications of this fire.
The motive behind the pro-trump message painted across the scorched church is at the moment unanswered. It is possible that this act was committed as a way to intimidate black voters in not only the surrounding communities, but also the state of Mississippi. Yet it can also be a way to depict Trump, and his supporters as hateful, racist, and destructive. “We don’t know if it was set by a Trump supporter or someone who wants to make Trump supporters seem as evil as possible, but that black church in Mississippi, did burn.” was how Rachel Maddow, a journalist from MSNBC, described the event. Either way, this fire was an act of terror.
Greenville, a city with a mostly black population, was greatly affected by this fire. Many citizens in the community, including the 200 members of this baptist church, do find themselves scared and intimidated. Pastor Carolyn Hudson said “Our church has been a historic church that has been there for over 111 years. This has left our hearts broken.” Citizens of the community should not be discouraged to vote despite the tragedy.
Leaders of Mississippi and also around our country are speaking out about this hateful performance of aggression. Mayor Errick Simmons proclaimed “It happened in the 50’s, it happened in the 60’s, but we are in 2016 and that should not happen now”, referring back to darker times in Mississippi.
Trump’s campaign released the statement “deeply saddened for the members of the Hopewell M.B. Church community, We are grateful that no one was hurt and we urge witnesses with any information to come forward and help bring justice to those who are responsible.” The campaign wants to show they do not condone the crime or message paired with it.
Hillary Clinton even tweeted “The perpetrators who set the Hopewell M.B. Church in MS on fire must be brought to justice. This kind of hate has no place in America. -H”
Though this tragedy allows eyes to see the racism and hate that still exists in this country today, there is a union of hope that also still exists among the American people. A member of the community posted the story of the recent tragedy on the website Gofundme. The initial goal of $10,000 was surpassed in moments, now earning $188,334. The community is still able to stand together and move forward, hoping to see many attending the polls this coming tuesday.