On November 1, one week before the presidential election, when a black Baptist church burned down Greenville, Mississippi with the words "Vote Trump" spray painted on the side, CNN was quick to suggest that the arson could be a "hate crime" targeting the local black community.
CNN quoted Mayor Errick Simmons who said said he spoke to some of the church's 200 congregants "who were fearful and felt intimidated. They felt the vandalism was not just an attack on the church, but on the black community, he said." It was all the CNN anchors could talk about for hours, if not days.
To be sure, there were those who suggested that contrary to the forced narrative, the arson could be nothing more than a false flag attack meant to incite anger at Trump supporters, but they were quickly silenced by being branded simply as purveyors of "fake news."
As it turns out, the "fake news" was right, because as AP reported this afternoon, the arsonist Andrew McClinton, 45, of Leland Mississippi has been arrested, and not only was he a member of the church congregation, but he was also African American.
So much for a "hate crime" against the black community.
McClinton was charged Wednesday 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 is a member of the church. Green said he didn't know about the arrest until he was called by The Associated Press.
Bishop Clarence Green stands outside his fire damaged 200-member
Hopewell M.B. Baptist Church in Greenville, Miss
Seemingly perturbed by the realization that the fire was started by a member of his own flock, not to mention a black man intent on provoking racial and political tensions under a "false flag", the Bishop had little to add: "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 according to AP.
Amusingly, even as the police investigation continues, a state official said politics did not appear to be the reason for the fire. "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 state fire marshal, told AP.
Well, that's one way to understate it... just like there are now "some efforts" to forget all about the fearmongering, race-baiting narrative that was spun instantly after the arson, in an attempt to demonize the stereotypical "angry, white, republican" Trump supporter, when it was all nothing more than a false flag attack.
Greenville is a Mississippi River port city of about 32,100 people, and about 78% 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.
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 where they have been warmly accepted. The Hopewell bishop, Clarence 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.