A 30-year-old man who wanted to “punish” gays has been jailed for 16 years for burning a LGBT pride flag.
Adolfo Martinez stole the flag from United Church of Christ in Ames, Iowa, because he hated gay people before burning it outside Dangerous Curves lap dancing club.
Later Martinez bragged about the stunt on June 11 to local media, claiming he was “doing God’s work”.
He told KCCI-TV: “It’s my honour. It is written.
“It is a judgement and it’s written to execute vengeance on the heathen and punishments on the people.
“It’s my honour to do so. It was an honour to do that. It’s a blessing from the Lord.”
Asked if he was specifically targeting gay people, Martinez said: “Yes, yes, yes. Exactly. I burned down their pride, plain and simple…I’m guilty as charged.”
Church pastor Eileen Gebbie, a gay woman, told the Des Moines Register that she agrees Martinez’ actions were motivated by hatred.
She said: “I often experienced Ames as not being as progressive as many people believe it is, and there still is a very large closeted queer community here
“But 12 people that I don’t know, who have no investment in me or this congregation, said this man committed a crime, and it was a crime borne of bigotry and hatred.”
Martinez was found guilty last month of third-degree arson in violation of individual rights, third-degree harassment, and reckless use of fire .
Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said Martinez was the first person in the county’s history to be convicted of a hate crime.
For this he received a hefty 16 year prison sentence.