Black Churches Still Burning

By | December 13th, 2016 | Glue, News & Views, web-featured

Acts of hate surface after election of President-elect Trump

Whether you’re terrified, angered or thrilled with the news, Donald Trump has been elected president. Despite that headline taping itself all over every news agency back on November 6, a tragic backlash of the insanity in this election occurred. An one hundred and eleven year old primarily black baptist church was not only burned down but “Vote Trump” was painted on the side of the incinerated building in Greenville, Mississippi.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for freedom of speech, and I think those who want to tear up their lawns with Trump signs, all power to you, but this is an act of violence. And not only did it occur, but Trump failed to recognize the horrors of his following. He couldn’t even castigate words that were written in his own name of pure terrorism.

Even Hillary Clinton, his opposing candidate, took to twitter and said “This kind of hate has no place in America.” Tell me again why she lost in the electoral college?

If you want to get obvious, let’s start with race. Not only was this a primarily black church, but other locations such as communities in North Dakota were targeted as Somali immigrants. When Donald Trump declares these immigrants should be deported he plants seeds of racism in our minds, or those of us who actually want to listen. This uproar of violence against minorities is only beginning as several shootings were also recorded on Election Day.

Trumps silence following this — let’s call it “Trump-related violence” — proves he condones this sort of terrorism. I guess his promises to “Make America Great Again” just keep falling through.

Following the incident a few state authorities from both sides of the political spectrum were interviewed. While most of the republicans focused on the criminal being identified and “brought to justice” U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, a Democrat whose district includes Greenville, had a different opinion in mind. He said, “The political message of the vandalism is obviously an attempt to sway public opinion regarding the upcoming election,’ he wrote in a statement. ‘I encourage all citizens not to be deterred by this cowardly act and exercise your right to vote at the ballot box.’”

Due to the fact that this incident occurred before the election many people still had hope in the town of Greenville. Even their Mayor, Errick Simmons, confidently said, “Nov. 8, it’s going to be a safe place here in Greenville.” Little did he know, right?

As of now, the criminal who committed the hate crime has not yet been identified. But the FBI and local authorities are still in the process of searching.

If you’re not convinced Trump may have had the slightest amount of influence on this hate crime, yet another act of anti-semitism was committed at a playground in Brooklyn Heights. A swastika and the phrase “Go Trump” was spray-painted onto one of the playground’s equipment. Not to mention, the swastika was almost humorously poorly drawn.

In retaliation, many cities and states, including Ithaca itself, have staged “stand up against hate” rallies. In response to the vandalism, even New York state senator Daniel Squadron and congresswoman Nydia Velázquez came together to support this rally.

Although this isn’t exactly the burning of black churches, that act in itself has been going on for longer than you have been alive.

Here’s a timeline to give you a better look: in 1829, white mobs rampaged through Cincinnati’s African American ward, setting fire to churches, schools, businesses and other signs of black prosperity. Black Philadelphians endured six similar attacks in the 25 years between 1825 and 1850. In an 1834 riot, two black churches, one Methodist, one Presbyterian, were burned down. In 1825, a gang of young ruffians poured red pepper into the stove during a service. A stampede ensued, as worshipers struggled to escape the choking smoke, leaving four people to die.

And although no lives were taken in this specific incident, it’s no less horrific.

Inside the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church of Greenville, Mississippi the ashes of the pews, organ, and windows prove how powerful anger in politics can fuel. Whether the arsonist truly is a Trump supporter or simply a terrorist at their worst, they should be treated just the same: a criminal influenced by prejudice.


Meredith Nash is a first-year writing major who really hates hate crimes. You can contact them at mnash2@ithaca.edu.

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