Thursday, November 3, 2016

Church Burned and Vandalized

This election is really getting ridiculous. A church in Mississippi was recently burned and vandalized with graffiti reading "Vote Trump." While I realize that no political movement or position is without extremists who do stupid, destructive things, this is over-the-top and totally uncalled for. It seems to me that if Donald Trump wants be a decent person here, he should promptly denounce this attack.

Authorities responded to the fire at Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Mississippi, Tuesday night. Delta Daily News reports that the majority of the damage was to the main sanctuary and there were no reported injuries. Someone had spray-painted the words “Vote Trump” along the side of the building.

A woman at the nearby Rose Hill Missionary Baptist Church told The Huffington Post that Hopewell is a historically black church. She said the community is in shock over what happened.

Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons called the incident “a heinous, hateful and cowardly act” in a press conference Wednesday, adding that it was “an attack on the black church and the black community.”

“This happened in the ‘50s and the ‘60s,” he said. “This should not happen in 2016.” Police Chief Delando Wilson said police are interviewing witnesses and talking to “a person of interest,” although there are no suspects yet.

To highlight just how utterly stupid this is, it's not as if Hillary Clinton has even a ghost of chance of winning Mississippi. The state has been solidly for Trump since he became the nominee. He even won the state in the Republican primary. So if this is an attempt at voter suppression or intimidation or something, it's hard to see how it could have much effect. With the way the Electoral College works, it doesn't matter if you win your state by one vote or by a million.

Trump may yet denounce the attack, and I hope he does. It seems to me that those Evangelicals who support him would want to hear him come out strongly against an attack on a church, so it would be a smart move on his part. But we'll just have to see what he does.

UPDATE: Predictably, over on Facebook there are Trump supporters coming out of the woodwork arguing that "clearly" this was staged by the Clinton campaign to make Trump supporters look bad. Obviously it's possible, but so far I've seen no actual evidence suggesting that to be the case. If such evidence does emerge from the ongoing investigation, I'll update the post to reflect those findings. To be clear, I don't think the Trump campaign did this either - it seems likely to me that it's the work of some individual asshole.

My advice to Donald Trump still stands either way - denounce this attack. If his supporters did it, he looks reasonable. If Clinton supporters did it and evidence to that effect comes out before the election, he looks even better for having done so.

UPDATE #2: So police have finally made an arrest in this case. The suspect is a convicted felon who was a member of the congregation. Police currently believe that the suspect's motivation was personal rather than political, and that the "Vote Trump" graffiti was an attempt to cast suspicion away from himself. There's no mention of the suspect's political beliefs, so I don't know which candidate, if any, he supported. But if he indeed burned down the church, it's quite clear that he's an asshole.

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