Alexander Jerich, the Florida man who destroyed a Pride rainbow crosswalk in Delray Beach during a birthday “celebration” for former President Donald Trump’s birthday, rejected a plea deal and demanded a jury trial.
He is charged with criminal mischief and reckless driving with property damage, but hate crime charges couldn’t be added under state law because the city was the victim of the crime – and cities don’t have a sexual orientation.
The rainbow-colored crosswalk in Delray Beach cost $16,000 to install, but it took only seconds for Jerich to deface by doing burnouts with his pickup truck festooned with an “All Aboard the Trump Train!” flag.
Video shot of the incident clearly showed his license plate and after the video went viral online, Jerich turned himself in to authorities.
If convicted, Jerich faces up to six years in jail plus restitution to restore the crosswalk, about $7,000.
Aronberg expressed regret that Jerich couldn’t be charged with a hate crime, saying it was clear that was the motivation.
“The facts of this case… indicate that the defendant was motivated by prejudice, including a witness who heard someone scream to the defendant to ‘tear up that gay intersection,’” Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said in a statement.
“We were, however, unable to apply Florida’s hate crime enhancement statute because the law requires that the defendant select a specific victim based on sexual orientation. Since the Pride streetscape is the property of the City of Delray Beach, the city is the named victim. Since a city has no sexual orientation, the state’s hate crime enhancement law cannot apply.”
“Make no mistake, we are all appalled by the defendant’s actions. Hate has no place in our community and we intend to hold the defendant accountable for his crimes,” he continued. “Any punishment must also include restitution that will pay for the Pride streetscape to be fully restored to its original form.”