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

The case is no longer being considered a hate crime, state officials say.  
Congregation Member Charged In Arson, ‘Trump’ Vandalism Of Black Church 
Courtesy of GoFundMe

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

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.