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Iowa man gets 16 years for stealing church’s pride flag & burning it outside STRIP CLUB

Iowa man gets 16 years for stealing church’s pride flag & burning it outside STRIP CLUB
Stealing a Pride banner from a church and burning it outside a local strip club has landed an Ames, Iowa resident in prison for sixteen years, on hate crime charges.

Adolfo Martinez, 30, has been found guilty of a hate crime, third-degree harassment and reckless use of fire for stealing.  He was arrested after police said he stole a pride banner hanging at the Ames United Church of Christ on June 11. 

Martinez later burned the purloined flag, doused with lighter fluid, outside the Dangerous Curves Gentleman’s Club, which had actually been kicked him out earlier that day. He had also threatened to burn down the club. 

Martinez admitted to burning the flag and was found guilty last month. He was sentenced on Wednesday to 16 years behind bars. The harsh sentence is mostly due to the hate crime charge, which is a class D felony. 

Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said the hate crime charge stemmed from the fact that authorities believe Martinez burned the flag because of “what it represents as far as sexual orientation.”

The harsh sentence elevated the local crime story to international prominence, and created quite a stir on social media.

Martinez had previously admitted to media outlets after being arrested that he “opposed homosexuality” and he was “guilty as charged.”

“I burned down their pride, plain and simple,” he said. The quote was later used against him by prosecutors. Reynolds said Martinez is the first person in the county’s history to be convicted of a hate crime. 

Ironically, had Martinez chosen to steal and burn the American flag, he would have been treated far less harshly. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that burning the Old Glory is a protected act under the First Amendment. 

Attempts by Congress since then to outlaw the flag’s desecration have gone nowhere. However, President Donald Trump has expressed support for outlawing flag-burning as recently as this summer.

 

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