The vandalism of a predominantly black church in Greenville, Mississippi, on Tuesday night is being investigated as a hate crime.
A 911 caller reported that the Hopewell Baptist Church had been set on fire Tuesday night. The words “Vote Trump” were also spray painted on an exterior wall, an act police say could count as voter intimidation less than a week before the presidential election.
According to CNN, no one was in the church at the time of the blaze and no injuries were reported. Most of the damage was contained to the church sanctuary.
“We do believe that God will allow us to build another sanctuary in that same place,” Pastor Carilyn Hudson said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Police told reporters that they are investigating the fire as a hate crime, and while there are currently no suspects, police have been speaking to a “person of interest.”
“It tries to push your beliefs on someone else, and this is a church, a predominantly black church, and no one has a right to try and … pressure someone into the way they want to decide to vote in this election,” Greenville Police Chief Delando Wilson said.
The FBI has also been notified of the situation and is working with local officials on the investigation, according to Mississippi’s Clarion-Ledger.
“The FBI Jackson Division is aware of the situation in Greenville,” spokesman Brett Carr told the paper, “and we are working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to determine if any civil rights crimes were committed.”