The Powerful Way People Are Coming Together After a Black Church Was Burned Tuesday Night

November 2nd 2016

Lucy Tiven

People are rallying behind a GoFundMe campaign to restore a predominantly black Mississippi church after it was vandalized Tuesday night.

Donors have given nearly $80,000 to support Greenville's Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, which local officials say was burned and vandalized with a pro-Donald Trump message.

Firefighters found the church "heavily engulfed in flames” when they arrived at 9 p.m., Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons said at a Wednesday press conference. No one was injured in the fire — which took approximately an hour to contain — and no one was inside the church when it occurred.

"We have contacted local, state, and federal authorities of this hateful and cowardly act," Simmons told reporters.

Blair Reeves, a New York City based product developer, created the GoFundMe campaign and announced it on Twitter Wednesday.

Twitter quickly responded ... 

Law enforcement has not identified the party or parties responsible for the fire, so Reeves' claim that Trump supporters were responsible is merely speculation.

... and celebrated how quickly the campaign took off.

Reeves updated the page to provide details about how he plans to deliver funds to the church. 

"I just got off the phone with Bishop Clarence Green from Hopewell M.B. Church, and let him know about this GFM campaign He was very pleasantly surprised, and wanted to thank all the donors. The Bishop is still on-site and has no access to a computer now, but as soon as he can, he will sign up Hopewell as an organization on GFM. This will allow GFM to wire all funds to their bank account directly. "

The vandalism is being investigated as a hate crime, the Atlantic reports.

At Wednesday's press conference, Greenville Police Chief Freddie Cannon called the incident "a form of voting intimidation," local news outlet WDAM 7 reports.

The NAACP will be observing elections in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina due to these concerns, Talking Points Memo reports.

“The idea that people would be standing outside the polls with guns, or even inside the polls with guns, clearly has the potential to turn people away. There’s a long history of this,” NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney Deuel Ross told TPM.

“These are places with a history of voter intimidation and also very liberal gun laws,” he added.

[h/t Dan Pfeiffer]