Mississippi Church Member Charged in 'Vote Trump' Arson | NBC Southern California
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Mississippi Church Member Charged in 'Vote Trump' Arson

The state fire marshal said investigators do not believe the fire was politically motivated

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    An undated state driver's license photo shows Andrew McClinton, of Leland, Mississippi, who was arrested by the Greenville Police Department on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016 in Greenville.

    A Mississippi man with a prior criminal record was arrested Wednesday in the burning of an African-American church that was spray-painted with the words "Vote Trump," and the church's bishop said the man is a member of the congregation.

    The state fire marshal said investigators do not believe the fire was politically motivated.

    Flyer Protections on Overbooked Plane Flights

    [NATL] Flyer Protections on Overbooked Plane Flights

    NBC reports on the steps that flyers and travelers can take to protect themselves, and their vacation, from an overbooked flight.

    (Published Wednesday, April 26, 2017)

    Andrew McClinton, 45, of Leland, Mississippi, is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Thursday in Greenville — the city where Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church was burned and vandalized Nov. 1, a week before the presidential election.

    McClinton is charged with first degree arson of a place of worship, said Warren Strain, spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety.

    Hopewell Bishop Clarence Green said McClinton, who is African-American, is a member of the church. Green said he didn't know about the arrest until he was called by The Associated Press.

    "This is the first I have heard of it," said Green, who said he was attending to other church duties and didn't have time for a longer interview.

    New Artificial Wombs Stimulates Mom for Preemies

    [NATL] New Artificial Wombs Stimulates Mom for Preemies

    A new invention from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia may soon care for extremely premature babies. Artificial wombs stimulate an environment similar to a mother's womb - a method that researchers say is gentler than ventilators and incubators. 

    (Published Wednesday, April 26, 2017)

    It was not immediately clear whether McClinton is represented by an attorney.

    The investigation is continuing, and officials have not revealed a possible motive.

    "We do not believe it was politically motivated. There may have been some efforts to make it appear politically motivated," Mississippi Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who is also the fire marshal, told AP.

    Mississippi Department of Corrections records show McClinton was sentenced in 1991 to three years' probation for a grand larceny conviction in Washington County, where Greenville is the county seat. His probation was revoked in 1992 for receiving stolen property in Greenville, said Department of Corrections spokeswoman Grace Simmons Fisher.

    Teens Overcoming Opioids Seek Treatment in Recovery Schools

    [NATL] Teens Overcoming Opioid Dependence Seek Treatment in 'Recovery Schools'

    A new method for battling teenage opioid abuse comes not in the form of a new drug or counseling method, but in special "recovery schools" that emphasize communal support and positive peer pressure. 

    (Published Tuesday, April 25, 2017)

    In 1997, McClinton was sentenced to seven years for attempted robbery in Lee County. And, in 2004, he was convicted of armed robbery in Lee County. He served eight years in prison and was released in January 2012. His time served included days he was jailed before trial.

    Greenville is a Mississippi River port city of about 32,100 people, and about 78 percent of its residents are African-American. While it's not unusual for people of different racial backgrounds to work and eat lunch together, local residents say the congregations at most churches remain clearly identifiable by race.

    Greenville Mayor Errick D. Simmons on Wednesday called the church burning "a direct assault on the Hopewell congregation's right to freely worship."

    "There is no place for this heinous and divisive behavior in our city," Simmons said. "We will not rest until the culprit is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. We take pride in our work to have a unified city and we look forward in continuing that work."

    New Orleans to Remove Confederate-Era Monuments

    [NATL] New Orleans to Remove Confederate-Era Monuments

    The city of New Orleans will remove four statues of Confederate-era events and figures in an effort to divorce itself from symbols that some see as problematic. The first statue, the Liberty Place Monument, was taken down early Monday morning. 

    (Published Monday, April 24, 2017)

    Hopewell was founded in 1905 in the heart of an African-American neighborhood, and the congregation now has about 200 members. While some walls of the beige brick church survived the fire, the empty windows are boarded up and church leaders have said the structure will likely be razed. Rebuilding could take months.

    After the fire, Hopewell congregants began worshipping in a chapel at predominantly white First Baptist Church of Greenville. Bishop Green said last month the generosity of First Baptist demonstrates that "unlimited love" transcends social barriers. James Nichols, senior pastor at First Baptist, said the Hopewell members are welcome to stay as long as they need a home.

    Greenville is in Washington County, a traditional Democratic stronghold in a solidly Republican state. In the Nov. 8 presidential election, Republican Donald Trump easily carried Mississippi, but Democrat Hillary Clinton received more than twice the vote of Trump in Washington County — 11,380 for Clinton to 5,244 for Trump.