On Nov. 1, 2016, a Black church was burned in Greenville, Mississippi. The words “Vote Trump” were spray painted on a wall and many felt it was a return to racist tactics used to keep Blacks away from the polls. There were calls for the authorities to treat the burning of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church as a hate crime. After an investigation by law enforcement, police now have made an arrest.
Mississippi Department of Public Safety spokesman Warren Strain says Andrew McClinton of Leland, Mississippi, who is Black, has been charged with first-degree arson of a place of worship. In addition, it was revealed that McClinton is a member of the church. The fire he set destroyed 80 percent of the church. The church established a GoFundMe account, which raised $240K to make repairs. While the church was being repaired, the congregation had been attending services at the predominantly white First Baptist Church of Greenville.
The campaign of Donald Trump fueled racist thoughts and behaviors that swept him into the presidency. It was easy for the public to believe some White racist was responsible for the arson at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church. For right now, no one knows why McClinton decided to not only set the fire but to spray paint “Vote Trump.” Conservative media sites are already beginning to point to this as an example of Blacks inciting racist hate toward Trump and his supporters. The burning of Black churches in the Deep South is a historic reality. Such arsons were used to intimidate the Black population in states like Georgia,
The burning of Black churches in the Deep South is a historic reality. Such arsons were used to intimidate the Black population in states like Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. This was especially true during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s if the church was being used to organize a congregation to vote. Last year, there was a string of Black churches burned across the South after avowed White supremacist Dylann Roof killed nine people at Emmanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina. In one week, five Black churches were burned in Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida.