A man who was arrested for leaving tire marks on a rainbow mural in South Florida was ordered by a judge to write a 25-page essay on the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting, according to The Palm Beach Post.
Alexander Jerich, 20, was arrested after a video captured him accelerating through the rainbow-painted intersection in his truck in June 2021, leaving black streaks across the mural, the PBP reported. The mural had been unveiled days earlier to honor the fifth anniversary of the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando.
Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer sentenced Jerich to write a 25-page essay on the shooting in which he would research the 49 people who were killed and provide reasoning as to why such tragedies occur, according to PBP. He also had to pay a $2,003 fine.
“I want your own brief summary of why people are so hateful and why people lash out against the gay community,” the judge said, PBP reported.
The FBI found no evidence that the shooter had specifically targeted gay people, and in a 911 call the shooter pledged allegiance to ISIS’ leader and did not mention gay people, according to The Washington Post.
The judge declined to adjudicate the criminal felony charges against Jerich, which he said would have profound negative consequences on his life.
The Pulse shooting was not a homophobic attack. But truth doesn’t matter any more. https://t.co/na9l4mOOoW
— Andrew Sullivan (@sullydish) April 28, 2022
Jerich’s attorney compared him to a mentally challenged character from the novel “Of Mice and Men,” emphasizing that he struggled to fit in and could not offer much of an explanation for why he defaced the mural, PBP reported.
“I was expecting someone who displays complete disrespect for their fellow citizens. A person some might call a thug or a redneck,” Suskauer said of Jerich, according to the PBP. “This was not what I was expecting.”
Prosecutors had asked Suskauer to give Jerich 30 days in jail and five years of probation, according to The Washington Post.
Rand Hoch, president of the Human Rights Council, asked the judge to ban Jerich for life from the intersection and wanted the incident to be prosecuted as a hate crime, which carries enhanced penalties, according to the PBP.
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