'Vote Trump' sprayed on fire-damaged black US church

2016-11-02 22:31
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Green Bay. (Evan Vucci, AP)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Green Bay. (Evan Vucci, AP)

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Doha - A black church in Mississippi has been burned and spray-painted with "Vote Trump" on an outside wall, according to US authorities.

The fire in the city of Greenville comes less than a week ahead of a presidential election that pits Republican Donald Trump against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Fire Chief Ruben Brown told the Associated Press news agency that firefighters found flames and smoke pouring from the sanctuary of the Hopewell MB Church just after 21:00 on Tuesday.

He said the sanctuary sustained heavy damage, including in the kitchen and pastor's office. Brown said investigators do not know yet if it is a case of arson.

'Hearts broken'

In a statement, the FBI's office in Jackson, the state capital, said it is  working "with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to determine if any civil rights crimes were committed".

There were no reports of injuries.

"The act that happened left our hearts broken," Pastor Carolyn Hudson told a news conference, noting that the church has a 111-year history.

READ MORE: Mitt Romney links Donald Trump to 'trickle-down racism'

A donation drive on a crowdfunding website raised more than $11 000 for repairs of the church in three hours on Wednesday.

"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," the fundraiser said.

Last year, there were several fires at predominantly black churches in southern states in the wake of the shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June. Nine people were killed.

The trial for the suspect in that case, Dylann Roof, is scheduled to begin on Monday.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  us  |  us 2016 election

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