An Iowa man will spend up to 16 years behind bars for stealing a pride flag from an Iowa church and setting it on fire — a sentence that even a local LGBTQ group says might be excessive, according to a new report.
Adolfo Martinez, 30, of Ames, was sentenced Wednesday for stealing the pride banner hanging at Ames Church of Christ back in June — and then burning it with lighter fluid and a lighter outside the Dangerous Curves Gentleman’s Club, The Des Moines Register reported.
Martinez admitted he did it because he opposes homosexuality, and a jury convicted him last month, according to NBC News.
“I burned down their pride, plain and simple,” Martinez told local outlet KCCI back in June.
He was sentenced to 15 years for arson as a hate crime, one year for reckless use of explosives or fire and 30 days for harassment, according to the report.
Courtney Reyes, executive director of the statewide LGBTQ group One Iowa, told the network she appreciates how seriously the case was handled, but added the imposed sentence might actually be taking things too far.
“Hate crimes against the LGBTQ community are a serious matter as they inflict distinct emotional harms on their victims, and strike fear into the communities they target,” Reyes said.
“That said, true justice should always strive to be about rehabilitation, reconciliation and healing communities. It is difficult to see how a 16-year prison sentence accomplishes any of those goals,” Reyes added.
The arson as a hate crime charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years. A year and a month is customary for the other two charges, according to the Register.
But since Martinez is considered a “habitual offender,” a longer term is permissible.
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