Congregation Member Charged In 'Vote Trump' Arson Of Black Church 

Photo by Courtesy of GoFundMe
The case is no longer being considered a hate crime, state officials say.  

The arson investigation of a historic Black church in Mississippi last month — during which the culprit spray-painted "Vote Trump" on a wall — is coming to a close as authorities have identified and charged a member of the church with the crime.

The suspect is a member of the Hopewell Baptist Church in Greenville, according to the Associated Press

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Greenville police on Wednesday arrested Andrew McClinton and charged him with one count of first degree arson of a place of worship.

McClinton is African American.

Though police are still determining the motive, there have been questions of whether the arson was a hate crime because Hopewell is a predominately Black church. Greenville’s Mayor said that many members of the church saw it as an incident aimed at the church, but also aimed the town’s Black community.

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"The charges that [McClinton] received today, it was not a hate crime but we do not know if the federal government will pursue that as such because we do not have a motive yet," said Kenya Collins, spokesperson for the city of Greenville.

Though firefighters quickly put out the the flames, the sanctuary of the 111-year-old church was badly damaged, according to pastor Carilyn Hudson. 

"We do believe that God will allow us to build another sanctuary in that same place," she said.

A GoFundMe account to help rebuild the church far surpassed its goal of $10,000; it raised more than $200,000 in two days, the Clarion Ledger reports.
 

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