On Wednesday, a man was arrested in Greenville, Mississippi for the burning of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, an African-American church, on November 1. The church was also spray-painted “Vote Trump.”
Warren Strain, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, said Andrew McClinton of Leland, Mississippi, was charged with first-degree arson of a place of worship. McClinton is African-American.
Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown Sr. said the church was a total loss. He had stated two weeks after the fire that the incident appeared to be arson.
Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, Mississippi’s state fire marshal, told The Associated Press,”We do not believe it was politically motivated. There may have been some efforts to make it appear politically motivated.”
Roughly 32,100 people live in Greenville; roughly 78% are African-American. Hopewell, founded in 1905, has about 200 members.
Hopewell congregants, looking for another place to worship after the fire, moved to the predominantly white First Baptist Church of Greenville. Hopewell bishop Clarence Green lauded First Baptist, saying “unlimited love” transcends social barriers. James Nichols, senior pastor at First Baptist, said the Hopewell members can worship there as long as they wish.
A GoFundMe page to help the church raised more than $200,000 in two days.