A GoFundMe account set up to help restore a historically Black Mississippi church defaced by vandals has raised over $200,000.
On Tuesday, Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church congregants in Greenville, Mississippi, found their sanctuary set ablaze with the words “Vote Trump” spray painted on one of the church walls, ABC News reports.
According to the outlet, no one was harmed in the fire, but the blaze left behind charred pews and caused inside structure damage.
At a Wednesday news conference, Hopewell’s pastor, Carolyn Hudson, said parishioners were “heartbroken,” but was faithful that “God would allow us to build another sanctuary in that same place.”
Blair Reeves, a New York native who organized the GoFundMe campaign, told ABC he felt “compelled” to act and was overwhelmed at the response.
“The animus of this election cycle combined with the potent racial history of burning black churches as a political symbol makes this event something we must not ignore,” Reeves wrote in the campaign’s description. “Only two weeks ago, the internet came together to help repair a North Carolina GOP field office that had been burned by thugs. Justice demands we do the same now.”
Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons said there was no doubt the attack was calculated at Wednesday’s presser.
“We are well familiar that this form of attack on a black church has occurred many, many years ago. It happened in the ’50s, it happened in the ’60S, but we’re in 2016 and [this] should not happen.”
As previously reported, the Greenville Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime, while the FBI announced plans to launch a civil rights probe.
The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives ruled the fire was “incendiary or intentionally set” and offered an $11,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest in a tweet Thursday.
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