The mayor of a town where a black church was daubed with “Vote Trump” and set on fire says the incident is being “investigated as a hate crime”.
The fire was, which badly damaged the 111-year-old church in Greenville, Mississippi, was set on Tuesday night.
Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons described it as a “hateful and cowardly act” and “a direct assault on people’s right to freely worship”.
Police have not named any suspects, but the FBI have joined the investigation.
A GoFundMe page set up to rebuild the church has already raised more than double its initial goal.
Mayor Simmons said: “We consider it a hate crime because of the political message which we believe was intended to interfere with worship and intimidate voters.
“It happened in the ’50s, it happened in the ’60s. It shouldn’t happen in 2016.”
The FBI and Mississippi Bureau of Investigation are assisting the investigation.
Police Chief Delando Wilson said: “We don’t have any suspect at time, but we are possibly talking to a person of interest.”
US election 2016: ‘Vote Trump’ church arson ‘a hate crime’