News (USA)

Police arrest teen who used truck to attack Pulse shooting memorial

A black truck with a flag flying from its back end screeches its tires, leaving black marks and smoke upon the rainbow crosswalk.
Security camera footage of Brewer defacing the rainbow crosswalk. Photo: YouTube screenshot

Police in Delray Beach, Florida have arrested 19-year-old Dylan Brewer for defacing a rainbow-colored intersection that was dedicated to the victims and survivors of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando.

He has been charged with felony criminal mischief and reckless driving. It’s actually the second time that a young vandal has defaced the intersection.

On the evening of February 4, multiple witnesses observed Brewer performing multiple “burnouts” with his black truck flying a U.S. flag from its rear end. Brewer spun the truck’s wheels to deliberately leave skid marks on the intersection, the Delray Beach Police Department wrote.

Witnesses provided smartphone videos of the crime to police, and Brewer turned himself in to authorities last Monday. He didn’t provide any statement to law enforcement and was taken to the Palm Beach County jail. He was released from custody on Tuesday morning on $5,250 bail, The Palm Beach Post reported.

The same intersection was vandalized by another 19-year-old, Alexander Jerrich, in July 2021. Like Brewer, Jerrich performed a burnout in his truck — which also had a flag flying from its rear end — to deliberately leave black marks on the rainbow street art. The truck was driving as part of a convoy celebrating the birthday of Republican former President Donald Trump, one of the most anti-LGBTQ presidents of all time.

The intersection had been unveiled the Saturday before Jerrich’s vandalism occurred. The $16,000 rainbow-colored intersection was paid for by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council and the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. It had the traditional rainbow colors representing the LGBTQ community; white, pink, and blue stripes representing the transgender community; as well as black and brown stripes for queer people of color.

A court ordered Jerrich to write a 25-page essay about the 2016 Pulse shooting but declined to pursue a felony criminal mischief charge against Jerrich for fear that it would make it harder for the Trump supporter to find a job. During the trial, Jerrich cried as his father discussed what a disappointment he is. Local LGBTQ+ organizations refused to let Jerrich work with them, even though the judge thought it would help him learn more about the queer community.

“Defacement of the memorial to the LGBTQ+ community should be considered a hate crime,” said Rand Hoch, the president and founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, in response to Jerrich’s sentencing. “However, local State Attorney David Aronberg previously determined that since the intersection is owned by a municipality and not an individual, Florida’s hate crime statute does not apply.”

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