A crowdfunding effort has raised more than $150,000 in a single day to help repair a historic black church that was burned in what appeared to be a politically charged arson attack in Mississippi on Tuesday.
The GoFundMe campaign, launched on Wednesday by Blair Reeves, a New York City-based tech product manager, received more than 4,500 pledged donations in less than 24 hours. Reeves had hoped to raise $10,000.
“Holy crap, y’all,” Reeves wrote in a status update late Wednesday. “When I ginned up this page before my first meeting at work today, I had no earthly clue it would get so big. Thank you all so much.”
Slideshow: Historic Mississippi black church burned and vandalized with ‘Vote Trump’ graffiti >>>
The burning of the 111-year-old Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church in Greenville, Miss., is being investigated by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation of the Tuesday night fire, and Greenville fire officials told the Associated Press they have determined it was arson.
“Vote Trump” was spray-painted on the outside of the church.
“This is a hate crime,” Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons told Yahoo News on Wednesday. “It’s a place where people raise their children, it’s a meeting place for the exchange of ideas, so we know the symbolism of the burning of the black church in the ’50s and ’60s was a way to intimidate folks who had their rights and civil liberties deprived. We’re looking at this as a hate crime, given the historic nature of this church.”
Related: Mississippi mayor: Attack on church a hate crime, but ‘love trumps hate’
“Love trumps hate,” added Simmons, who took office in January. “And what we have to do is move forward in loving each other and respecting each other.”
The perpetrators who set the Hopewell M.B. Church in MS on fire must be brought to justice. This kind of hate has no place in America. -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) November 3, 2016
Early Thursday, Reeves informed supporters of his campaign that he has been in touch with Clarence Green, the bishop of Hopewell Baptist, and that the funds raised will be transferred to the church’s bank account immediately.
“Just got off the phone again with Bishop Green. He’s had a very long day — up at 4AM and going ever since,” Reeves wrote. “He is overwhelmed at the response you’ve shown here. Thank you, very much. Love > Hate.”
Last month, a North Carolina GOP field office was firebombed, and a swastika and the message “Nazi Republicans leave town or else” were spray-painted on the outside. In response, North Carolina Democrats launched a campaign to raise money to help it reopen.
“This is not how Americans resolve their differences. We talk, we argue, sometimes we march, and most of all we vote. We do not resort to violence by individuals or by mobs,” a message on their GoFundMe page read. “So, let’s all pitch in, no matter what your party affiliation … and get that office open again quickly.”
The effort raised more than $12,000, and the office was reopened Wednesday.
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