On Tuesday, November 1st, 2016 in Greenville, Mississippi, the Hopewell Baptist Church was set ablaze and vandalized with graffiti. The Hopewell Baptist Church is a Black Church that has served as a house of worship for 111 years (http://cnn.it/2fdfqht). Fortunately, no injuries or deaths were reported.
According to a CNN article covering the incident, Mayor Errick Simmons spoke to some of the church’s 200 congregants who were fearful post-event (http://cnn.it/2fdfqht). They told the Mayor of Greenville that they felt “the vandalism was not just an attack on the church, but on the black community” (http://cnn.it/2fdfqht).
An official statement released by the FBI’s office in Jackson, Mississippi stated the FBI is “working with our local, state and federal law enforcement partners to determine if any civil rights crimes were committed” (http://cnn.it/2fdfqht). The incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
Although the burning of the church is devastating, what is more horrific is the fact that the phrase “Vote Trump” was sprayed on the Church. The incident can be a sign of the impending violence that could potential occur pre and post election. As the Vox’s Zack Beauchamp states, “Donald Trump’s talk of a rigged election in recent weeks may only inspire more violence” (http://bit.ly/2eVIZpZ). Beauchamp further explains:
“Basically, Trump is encouraging his voters, already anxious about a possibly rigged election, to go out to polling places full of non-Trump voters and serve as amateur election police. These people can’t go into polling places, legally speaking. But they can congregate around polling places, showing up and harassing voters waiting in line. It’s a situation you can easily imagine escalating out of control” (http://bit.ly/2eVIZpZ).
According to Politico, “the Klu Klux Klan (KKK), neo-Nazis and militias plan to monitor urban polling places and suppress the black vote” (http://politi.co/2fgTGAm). In an article for Politico written by Ben Schreckinger, “Neo-Nazi leader Andrew Anglin plans to muster thousands of poll watchers across all 50 states” (http://politi.co/2fgTGAm). Anglin’s “partners at the alt-right website ‘the Right Stuff’ are touting plans to set up hidden cameras at polling places in Philadelphia and hand out liquor and marijuana in the city’s “ghetto” on Election Day to induce residents to stay home” (http://politi.co/2fgTGAm). Although there have been no arrests or suspects identified, it is chilling to learn some of the horrific actions Trump supporters are willing to perform.
Many disturbing thoughts and concerns come to mind when reflecting on the cultural impact of this incident: if Donald Trump does win the election, will this type of violence against the African American communities be accepted, or more frightening, expected? Will Donald Trump bring America back to the Jim Crow era? Will minorities living in the United States be treated the same was as White Americans? Significantly, will minorities living in American be safe under the Trump administration?
These are critical questions to think about when deciding on the candidate to be America’s next president. On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, make sure you exercise your right to vote.