BuzzFeed News

Reporting To You

Black Mississippi Church Burned And Vandalized With "Vote Trump" Graffiti

The fire, which was determined to be arson, is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Last updated on November 2, 2016, at 7:06 p.m. ET

Posted on November 2, 2016, at 1:22 p.m. ET

Angie Quezada / Delta Daily News

A fire that badly damaged a historically black church in Mississippi Tuesday and vandalized with "Vote Trump" graffiti was determined to be arson, officials said.

Greenville Fire Chief Ruben Brown Sr. told the Associated Press that an $11,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever started the fire at Hopewell Baptist Church, which Mayor Errick Simmons called a hate crime.

"We consider it a hate crime ... because of the political message which we believe was intended to interfere with worship and intimidate voters," Simmons told the AP. "This act is a direct assault on people's right to freely worship."

Only a soot-stained brick wall of the historical church remained standing, while the pulpit and pews were left charred by the fire.

"It definitely will have to be reconstructed from front to back," Brown said.

No injuries were reported in the blaze, which authorities believe was set around 9 p.m. Tuesday, NBC News reported.

The FBI and other federal agencies are also investigating the incident.

“The FBI Jackson Division is aware of the situation in Greenville, and we are working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to determine if any civil rights crimes were committed,” FBI spokesman Brett Carr said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.

Greenville church set on fire and the words "Vote Trump" were spray painted on the side. Police holding a press con… https://t.co/Xwk5vVTshS

On Wednesday, Donald Trump's campaign issued a statement regarding the incident:

"We are deeply saddened for the members of the Hopewell M.B. Church community and condemn in the strongest terms this terrible act that has no place in our society. We are grateful that no one was hurt and we urge witnesses with any information to come forward and help bring justice to those who are responsible."

ADVERTISEMENT