An Iowa man is facing a hefty amount of time behind bars after stealing and later burning a church’s LGBT flag out in front of a strip club.
The 30-year-old man, Adolfo Martinez, was charged with third-degree arson in addition to hate crime and harassment charges, according to the Des Moines Register. A charge for reckless use of fire was thrown in for good measure, as well.
Martinez was described by the paper as a habitual offender, which would potentially explain the excessive charges on what seemingly was a relatively minor offence.
Back in June Martinez allegedly stole a pride banner being flown at a local church, Ames United Church of Christ. After confiscating the flag, he then traveled down the road to Dangerous Curves Gentleman’s Club and using lighter fluid and a lighter, set the flag on fire.
The hate crime, which was levied because Martinez allegedly targeted the church because of what the flag “represents as far as sexual orientation”, carries a maximum of five years in prison along with it.
The fact that Martinez was a habitual offender, and the fact that it is not immediately clear what his past offences are, make it difficult to know just how unusual this harsh sentence is for burning someone’s flag.
Be praying this man has a change of heart, that people think twice before destroying property, and also that our nation doesn’t become one that starts locking people up and throwing away the key over misdemeanours.