Mississippi Man Charged with Hate Crimes for Destroying Satanic Temple Statue

The state of Iowa has charged a man from Mississippi with hate crimes after he allegedly destroyed a statue of a pagan deity there. The Satanic Temple of Iowa took the statue to the Capitol since the state permits religious displays within the structure on holidays. Leaders at the state and federal levels, notably Republican governors of Florida and Iowa, Kim Reynolds and Ron DeSantis, sharply criticized the action.

The organization claimed that on December 14, the image of the horned god Baphomet was "destroyed beyond repair." The next day, Mississippi politician and former congressional candidate Michael Cassidy was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

He said on the conservative website Sentinel that "the word of God, not bureaucratic order, holds my conscience hostage. Thus, I took action." As to the Des Moines Register, Cassidy is now facing charges from Polk County prosecutors related to a graver violation. A publicly available document accused him of third-degree criminal mischief, a crime. According to the hate crime legislation in Iowa, it is claimed that the conduct was carried out "in violation of individual rights."

A spokesperson for the Polk County Attorney's Office, Lynn Hicks, said in a statement that "evidence suggests the defendant made remarks to law enforcement and the public suggesting he damaged the property because of the victim's faith."

Sara Pasquale, Cassidy's lawyer, chose not to comment on the latest accusation. She has said that the Satanic Temple has filed documents in the past that "are just aimed to arouse strong emotions and instigate others." On February 15, Cassidy is expected to appear in court. Nearly 2,000 fans have contributed more than $84,000 for his defense, according to the GiveSendGo fundraising website. Established in 2013, the Satanic Temple is a secular advocacy group located in Salem, Massachusetts that claims to be a "non-theistic religious organization" and denies the existence of Satan.


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