Mississippi Church Fire In November Staged To Look Like Hate Crime, Congregation Member Andrew McClinton Charged

Andrew McClinton is being charged for staging a hate crime when he burned down his church.

Andrew McClinton is being charged for staging a hate crime when he burned down his church.

Andrew McClinton Staged Hate Crime When He Set Church On Fire

Greenville, MS –  Charges have been filed against Andrew McClinton in a vandalism and an arson of a black Mississippi church that was initially thought to be a hate crime.

According to news sources, a black member of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, Andrew McClinton, age 45, was arrested on Wednesday, December 21, 2016, for one count of First Degree Arson on a Place of Worship.  A 911 call was made on November 2, 2016 around 9:15 p.m.  Firefighters responded and quickly put the fire out. “Vote Tump” was also spray-painted on an exterior wall of the church. The fire was largely contained to the sanctuary, which sustained heavy damage from heat, fire and smoke.  McClinton has been interviewed by Police and has made statements that implicate him in the fire. Police now believe that the incident was staged to look like a hate crime.

Andrew McClinton has a lengthy criminal history dating back to 1991, including convictions for Grand Larceny, Receiving Stolen Property, and Attempted Robbery.  Hopewell Bishop Clarence Green has confirmed that McClinton, who lives about six miles from the church, is a member of the over 200 member congregation.  McClinton’s involvement in the vandalism is still being investigated.  Several agencies are conducting the investigation, including the Greenville Police Department, the Greenville Fire Department, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

When the incident was first reported, before Andrew McClinton’s involvement was known, Greenville Mayor Errick D. Simmons said  “There is no place for this heinous and divisive behavior in our city. We will not rest until the culprit is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”  During a press conference, not long after the fire, Mayor Simmons said that the fire was “an attack on the black church and the black community.”

Following the fire, over $230,000 was raised for the church on GoFundMe.

Mike Chaney, Mississippi Insurance Commissioner and State Fire Marshal, said that  “There may have been some efforts to make it appear politically motivated.”  Church officials have said that the church will have to be rebuilt  It is predominantly black and was built in 1911.  Andrew McClinton’s first appearance was on Thursday, December 22, 2016, in Greenville Municipal Court.  A judge set McClinton’s bond at $250,000.  No motive is known and no one was injured.

This marks just another in a series of staged hate crimes and false reports since the November presidential election. The rise in hate crime reports has left people wondering how many of these additional hate crimes are real and how many are manufactured.

The division within this country is sad enough without creating and fostering hate.  Also, hate crimes are of such importance that tremendous amounts of law enforcement resources are used.

What do you think should happen to someone who stages a hate crime?  Please let us know on Facebook or in the comments below.