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Arson Suspect in Hopewell Baptist Church Fire Scrawled with "Vote Trump" is African-American

Updated on December 24, 2016

A suspect has been arrested in the fire-bombing of an historic Black church in Greenville, Mississippi last November which sparked fears of a resurgence of racist, KKK, and Neo-Nazi violence. The suspected arsonist, Andrew McClinton of Leland, Mississippi, wrote "Vote Trump" on the side of the church. McClinton is African-American.

The attack prompted a nationwide wave of outrage in which the attack was partly blamed on "incendiary rhetoric" by Donald Trump. The Washington Post reported the next day:

"Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons called the fire a “hateful and cowardly act,” sparked by the incendiary rhetoric of GOP nominee Donald Trump during his presidential campaign."

Three days after the attack, NBC News ran the headline at its website "Trump-Inspired Election Pranks Strike Dangerous Tone With Vandalism, Arson."

Andrew McClinton
Andrew McClinton

110 after its founding, Hopewell is one of the oldest African-American Baptist churches in the South, in a town where 78% of the population is African-American. The arson was being investigated as a hate crime by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.

The fire was immediately condemned by the Trump campaign as a "terrible act that has no place in our society."

Bobby Moak, chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party, linked the Trump campaign's supporters with the fire saying: “There are no coincidences in politics, and we’ve got a burnt-out church with political messaging on the side,”

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton quickly associated the fire with hate crime, tweeting a response to the incident which said “this kind of hate has no place in America.”


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