Apparently, you can burn any flag you want consequence-free, but be prepared to spend nearly two decades in prison if you burn a flag belonging to the LGBT community in the state of Iowa.
According to KCCI-TV, a man will be serving 17 years in prison because he stole an LGBT flag from a church and then proceeded to burn it in front of a men’s strip club.
On June 30, Adolpha Martinez stole the flag from Ames Church of Christ in Iowa and burned it. Martinez expresses no regret whatsoever.
“No, I’m guilty as charged,” he said according to KCCI.
A Story County judge sentenced Martinez to 17 years in prison on Wednesday and explained the increased sentence was due to Martinez having a long history of harassment and habitual offending while never showing any remorse.
“The defendant stated that there was nothing the judge could do to stop him from continuing this behavior and that he would continue to do this no matter what,” said Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds, whose office recommended the maximum sentence.
Perhaps not so strangely, Ames Church of Christ Minister Eileen Gebbie thinks the sentence was completely justified despite the fact that no one was hurt.
“Nobody got shot (and) nobody was sexually assaulted,” Gebbie said. “It was a banner. How much does that hurt? But I had to reflect on the fear it created in our sanctuary. People became afraid to go to church. We had to continue to talk about how to prepare for an active shooter and we learned from the trial Mr. Martinez had been watching our church for some time.”
KCCI reported that Gebbie believes this sentence sends out a strong warning.
“We do not tolerate hatred on the basis of biology,” said Gebbie.
I absolutely believe this man should be charged with theft and destruction of personal property, but outside of that, this sentence is asinine to the highest degree. Watching video of Martinez speaking to reporters, it’s clear that this man needs help, not a chunk of his life spent in prison.
You can see it for yourself.
If you think this is completely unfair, KCCI also reported last year about a man named Calvin White who strangled his own 2-month-old child to death. He was sentenced to 50 years in prison but will be eligible for parole after serving a minimum of 30 percent of his sentence.
That means that White could possibly get out in 15 years. Martinez has to serve 17 for burning a gay pride flag.
Reynolds seems to be proud of the sentence that was handed down to Martinez and announced it over Twitter.
Needless to say, the reaction to it wasn’t pleasant.
This sentence is insane…
— Simplythebest (@Simplyt66442038) December 20, 2019
16 years for something so worthless, good job locking this animal up! The LGBT community can finally feel safe from these flag rapists, just you wait in 10 years we might be able to get them the death sentence
— Ancap (@Ancap73085835) December 20, 2019
Still trying to get my head around this .@storycountyatty : burning an American flag is "protected free speech", but burning the flag of gays – which is not even a country – is a "hate crime" punishable by 17 YEARS imprisonment???
That's a hell of a contrast & compare . . .
— Sean Lnnane (@sean_linnane) December 20, 2019
This sentence is absolutely disgusting and depraved.
I pray the Lord judges you harshly for the role you played in all this.
— Henry (@HMSPitts) December 20, 2019
This is what happens when abuse of power and social justice meet.