LGBTQ hate: judge gives 20-year-old rioter homework

US state of Florida
20-year-old destroys LGBTQ street scene – judge gives him homework

The 20-year-old is said to have intentionally burned skid marks on an LGBTQ rainbow pattern painted on the road in a motorcade in honor of Trump’s birthday (icon image)

© Mario Cantu / Picture Alliance

A US court has decided on an unusual measure in the case of a young rioter. Instead of putting the accused behind bars for vandalizing a rainbow street scene, he should write an essay.

A South Florida judge has ordered a 20-year-old man to write a 25-page essay about the 2016 attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando. The defendant had previously pleaded guilty to defacing a rainbow streetscape of the LGBTQ community last year. Several US media had reported about it.

Motorcade for Trump’s birthday

The young man joined a motorcade last summer to celebrate the birthday of ex-President Donald Trump, reports the local newspaper “Palm Beach Post”. At this “President Trump Birthday Rally” organized by local Republicans, he and 30 other participants drove through the small town of Delray Beach in southern Florida.

As the AP news agency writes, a video shows how the 20-year-old burned skid marks on a rainbow pattern painted on the road several times in his father’s pick-up truck, apparently on purpose. According to police, the streetscape was unveiled the day before to celebrate Pride Month.

Defendant bursts into tears in court

Shortly thereafter, according to the New York Times, the 20-year-old turned himself in to the police. In March of this year, he pleaded guilty to criminal damage and reckless driving. District Judge Scott Suskauer was supposed to announce the verdict last week, according to the Palm Beach Post. Prosecutors would have asked for 30 days in prison, community service and five years probation. The president of the local human rights organization, the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, even pushed for a one-year prison sentence.

“I expected someone who would show complete disrespect for his fellow citizens. A person who could be described as a thug or a hillbilly,” said District Judge Suskauer. Instead, the young man sat in the dock crying and hanging his head while his father talked about his difficulties at school and the lack of friends.

Judge: “I want you to summarize briefly why people are so hateful”

In view of his remorse, Suskauer wants to take more time to find an appropriate punishment for the vandal. But before the final verdict was announced on June 8, the judge gave the accused a homework assignment. He is to write a 25-page essay about the 2016 shooting at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando, where a gunman killed 49 people.

“I want you to summarize briefly why people are so hateful and why they are inciting hatred against the gay community,” Suskauer said, according to the Palm Beach Post. As the local newspaper further reports, the judge does not want to put the accused behind bars just because he made an ill-considered decision: “I wouldn’t want to do that to a young man who still has his whole life ahead of him.”

According to the New York Times, the president of the local human rights group is also satisfied with the admittedly unusual approach of the district court: “I went in expecting to be disappointed and came out impressed,” said the president about the hearing.

Sources: “Palm Beach Post“; AP; “New York Times


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