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"Vote Trump" painted on wall of fire-damaged black church
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Greenville, Miss. mayor Errick Simmons following church burning
Mark Rigsby

Developing story. Check back for updates.

11:53 PM - MPB's Mark Rigsby interviews Greenville, Miss. mayor Errick Simmons

 GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) - The Latest on the fire that damaged a black church in Mississippi (all times local):

   11:40 a.m.

   The mayor of a small Mississippi town is describing a fire at a black church that was also spray-painted with a "Vote Trump" message as a "hateful and cowardly act."

   The fire Tuesday night heavily damaged the Hopewell M.B. Church in Greenville, Mississippi.

   Mayor Errick Simmons told a news conference Wednesday that said local officials consider the fire a hate crime is because of the political message he believes was intended to interfere with worship and intimidate voters.

   But neither Simmons nor Fire Chief Ruben Brown has labeled the fire a case of arson, although Brown has said arson investigators are at the scene. Brown says the fire caused heavy damage to the sanctuary and water and heat damage to the kitchen and pastor's study.

   Pastor Caroline Hudson says the 111-year-old church congregation will rebuild on the same site.

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   10:16 a.m.

   Authorities say a fire has partially damaged a black church in Mississippi, and television images show "Vote Trump" spray-painted on an outside wall.

   Fire Chief Ruben Brown tells The Associated Press that firefighters found flames and smoke pouring from the sanctuary of the Hopewell M.B Church just after 9 p.m. Tuesday.

   He says the sanctuary sustained heavy damage, while the kitchen and pastor's office received water and smoke damage. He says investigators don't know yet if it is a case of arson.

   Brown says there was also a political message spray-painted on the side of the church, but would not say what the message said.

   "Vote Trump" is clearly visible in images of the church broadcast on television sites.

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GREENVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Authorities say a fire has partially damaged a black church in Mississippi, and television images show "Vote Trump" spray-painted on an outside wall.

   Fire Chief Ruben Brown tells The Associated Press that firefighters found flames and smoke pouring from the sanctuary of the Hopewell M.B Church just after 9 p.m. Tuesday.

   He says the sanctuary sustained heavy damage, while the kitchen and pastor's office received water and smoke damage. He says investigators don't know yet if it is a case of arson.

   Brown says there was also a political message spray-painted on the side of the church, but would not say what the message said.

   "Vote Trump" is clearly visible in images of the church broadcast on television sites.