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Iowa Man Convicted of Hate Crime for Burning LGBTQ Pride Flag

Adolfo Martinez

Adolfo Martinez had said he burned the flag because of his hostility to LGBTQ people.

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A man in Ames, Iowa, has been convicted of a hate crime for tearing down and burning a Pride flag that was hanging at a local church.

A jury rendered the verdict on Adolfo Martinez Wednesday, in a trial that marked the first time a hate crime had gone before a jury in Story County, the Ames Tribune reports.

Martinez, 30, was also convicted of third-degree harassment, reckless use of fire, and being a habitual offender. A sentencing date has not been set; he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Shortly after midnight June 11, Martinez was "acting out and making threats" at Dangerous Curves, an Ames nightclub featuring scantily clad female dancers, the Tribune reports. Police were called to the club, but he had been ejected by the time they arrived. He returned a short while later and told an employee he was going to burn the club down and also wanted to burn the LGBTQ Pride flag that was hanging at the Ames United Church of Christ. He left to get the flag, which he set on fire on a street near the club.

He was arrested that day, and while in jail he told a local TV station that he burned the flag because of his hostility to LGBTQ people and his objection to the church's inclusive stance. The interview was submitted as evidence in his trial.

"Hate crimes will not be tolerated in our jurisdiction," Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds told the Tribune. "Offenders will be held accountable."

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.