Listen to this article Ohio Man Accused Of Attacking Church With Molotov Cocktails Before Planned Drag Shows
Man Accused Of Attacking Church With Molotov
On Friday, the Justice Department reported that Aimenn Penny, a member of the White Lives Matter Ohio branch, allegedly attacked a church with Molotov cocktails in anticipation of drag shows planned by the religious community. The attack has stirred up a discussion on the escalation of hate crimes in the United States and has received widespread condemnation.
Details of the Attack
According to charging documents, Aimenn Penny admitted to using vodka and beer bottles and gasoline to target the Community Church of Chesterfield outside of Toledo.Furthermore on the morning of March 25, prosecutors allege church leaders found scorch marks on an exterior sign and the front door of their building and a broken sign on the property.
Before the alleged attack, church representatives told investigators that they received hate mail and messages containing non-specific threats of protest and violence against the drag events. Investigators say Penny’s phone was geolocated to the church property on March 25, and during an FBI interview, he admitted to being responsible for the attack at the Chesterfield church.
Penny’s Background and Previous Actions
Penny is a part of the pro-Nazi and anti-gay group White Lives Matter Ohio. The criminal complaint unsealed on Friday revealed this was not Penny’s first time targeting drag events. According to prosecutors, on March 11, he attended a drag queen story hour “to distribute propaganda flyers representing White Lives Matter, Ohio’s anti-drag queen views,” and was wearing “military-style gear, including camouflage pants, a tactical vest, and jacket with a patch showing a firearm.”
At that same event, members of the White Lives Matter group “showed up at the event carrying swastika flags and shouting racial and anti-gay slurs and ‘Heil Hitler.'” In October of last year, the complaint alleges Penny told local police that African Americans were “the problem” and he looked forward to “the civil war coming between races.”
Penny’s Motivation for the Attack
During the FBI interview, charging documents contend that the defendant told investigators he was “trying to protect children and stop the drag show event.” According to court documents, “[Penny] stated that night he became more and more angry after watching internet videos of news feeds and drag shows in France and decided to attack the church.”
Response and Reflection
The attack has been widely condemned by political leaders and religious groups. The Toledo chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) condemned the attack, saying that it “sends a message of hate and intolerance to the entire community.” Similarly, a spokesperson for the Anti-Defamation League said that “we must all stand together in condemning this reprehensible act of hate.”
The attack has also sparked a conversation about the rise of hate crimes in the US. According to the FBI, hate crimes rose by 6% in 2020, with a significant increase in anti-Asian and anti-Semitic hate crimes. Experts attribute the rise to the divisive rhetoric of former President Donald Trump and the increasing polarization of American society.
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