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 offense.
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 offenses are, make it difficult to know just how unusual this harsh of a 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 misdemeanors.