DES MOINES, Iowa — A Mississippi man is now being charged with a hate crime for allegedly destroying a Satanic Temple holiday display at the Iowa State Capitol in December.

Michael Cassidy was initially charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief, a serious misdemeanor, for allegedly breaking the Baphomet statue that was a part of a holiday display. According to court documents, the head of the statue was broken into multiple pieces – resulting in about $3,000 in repairs.

Mortimer Adremelech with the Satanic Temple of Iowa spoke with WHO 13 shortly after the vandalism occurred and stressed the importance of everyone’s right to practice their religion.

“All religions have equal rights in the public forum under the First Amendment of the Constitution. As Americans we have every right to be here just like anyone else,” said Adremelech. “Thank you so much to everyone who has come out to support us, I really appreciate it.”

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The statue sparked a lot of controversy online. Gov. Kim Reynold’s called the display “absolutely objectionable” and Republican Representative Brad Sherman claimed it was “unconstitutional.”

On Friday Cassidy was charged with third-degree criminal mischief in violation of individual rights, a Class D felony that falls under Iowa’s hate crime statute. In late December Cassidy pled not guilty to the fourth-degree criminal mischief charge. A hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 7.


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