Sometimes a crime is just a crime.
On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen opened fire on patrons of the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 and wounding 53 others. The rampage ended when Mateen was shot dead by police. It was an atrocious act for which there is no justification.
Although straight people patronize the Pulse, it is known as a gay nightclub. That said, six years later, there is still no evidence that Mateen targeted the Pulse for that reason.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, told prosecutors that before the massacre, her husband had asked her: “What would make people more upset, an attack on Downtown Disney or a club?” He didn’t say “a gay club,” nor did he “mention gay people in phone calls during the attack,” the report said.
Salman also told prosecutors that Mateen had been considering three venues: “Pulse, Disney Springs or City Place, an entertainment and shopping district in West Palm Beach.”
At any rate, the city of Delray Beach, Florida, marked Pride month last year by unveiling “Pride Intersection,” which featured an enormous street mural of the familiar gay pride rainbow flag. The dedication ceremony took place on June 12, which was the fifth anniversary of the Pulse shooting.
Several days later, Florida resident Alexander Jerich, 19, used his truck to burn two 15-foot-long tire marks into the mural.
The Washington Post reported Jerich had been part of a 30-car “President Trump Birthday Rally” parade that had been organized by the county Republican Party.
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A witness recorded the incident on his cell phone and told police he’d heard someone yelling to Jerich to “tear up that gay intersection.”
Jerich was quickly arrested and charged with criminal mischief and reckless driving. Last month, Jerich pleaded guilty and paid $2,000 to have the mural restored. According to the Post, the Palm Beach County state attorney “did not add a hate-crime charge because Florida’s statute states there must be a specific victim targeted.”
Jerich appeared before Palm Beach County Judge Scott…