Man Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church

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Martinez said he removed the flag because he didn’t believe the church should support the LGBTQ community since it is a house of worship.

Adolfo Martinez was Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church
Adolfo Martinez was Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church

A man has been sentenced to about 16 years after burning an LGBTQ flag hanging from a church in Iowa.

Adolfo Martinez, 30, was found guilty of stealing an LGBT banner that was being flown at Ames United Church of Christ. He then went to the Dangerous Curves Gentlemen’s Club and set the flag on fire outside the club.

Martinez said he removed the flag because he didn’t believe the church should support the LGBTQ community since it is a house of worship, the police report read.

On Wednesday, Martinez was sentenced to prison on convictions of committing a hate crime, third-degree arson in violation of individual rights and reckless use of fire as a habitual offender.

Adolfo Martinez did not fight the charges, saying he committed the act “intentionally”

Pastor Eileen Gebbie of the Ames United Church of Christ posted a statement on the church Facebook page saying the church did not press charges against Martinez.

LGBTQ Flag At Ames United Church of Christ
LGBTQ Flag At Ames United Church of Christ

Martinez told police that he lit the banner on fire with lighter fluid and a lighter, according to the Des-Moines Register.

The hate crime charges were added because Martinez is suspected of criminal mischief against someone’s property because of “what it represents as far as sexual orientation,” Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said.

He is the first person in the county to be convicted of a hate crime, she added.

Martinez faced a maximum of five years in prison for the hate crime and arson charge. He also faced a maximum of 13 months for the other charges, but because he is a habitual offender, he was eligible to be sentenced to a longer term.

Adolfo Martinez was Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church
Adolfo Martinez was Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church

“Basically, he was looking at three years but as soon as he opened his mouth and said ‘This is why I did it,’ he gave them the motivation of why it occurred and he turned it into a hate crime,” said Drake University Law Professor Bob Rigg.

Police Commander Jason Tuttle said the extra patrol was called because of social media posts protesting Martinez’ sentencing.

The post Man Sentenced To 16 Years in Prison for Burning LGBT/Gay Flag In Church appeared first on Believers Portal.

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Joshua Brown, a key witness in the Amber Guyger murder trial, met the violent death he feared

(CNN)Joshua Brown lived in constant fear that he could be the next victim of gun violence.

“He said it could have been him,” said Lee Merritt, Jean’s family attorney.
Ten days after Brown testified, his fear came true. The 28-year-old was shot and killed outside his new Dallas apartment Friday.
No suspects have been arrested. The motive remains unknown.
Brown’s testimony provided key details for the jury, which convicted Guyger of murder. But it also gave insights into Brown’s personal story and his interactions with Jean.

The two men met the day Jean was killed

On the afternoon of September 6, 2018, Brown met Jean for the first time.
“The leasing people came, knocked on our doors,” Brown testified. “It was like they had a noise complaint. And it was around like 2 p.m., which was kind of odd, because there wasn’t no noise.”
Jean
When both Brown and Jean — nicknamed “Bo” by his friends — came out of their apartments, they had their first conversation.
“Me and Bo were both smoking weed, and we kind of knew that (apartment management) was coming to our door because of maybe the scent of the weed.”

Brown came home just in time to hear the gunshots

Brown said he studied interdisciplinary science at the University of South Florida and hoped to play football after college.
But those football aspirations didn’t pan out. Brown was a roofing contractor for a few years and later managed four Airbnb rental properties.
Joshua Brown
The night his neighbor was killed, Brown left his apartment to watch part of a Falcons vs. Eagles game at a sports bar.
“My cousin plays safety for the Falcons, and a friend of mine plays for the Eagles. So I just wanted to make sure I was there to watch the game,” Brown said.
But he decided to go home at halftime. He returned home to his fourth-floor apartment at nearly the same time Guyger walked into Jean’s apartment, mistaking it for her own.
Brown said he was down the hall when he heard the voices of two people who sounded like they were meeting by “surprise.”
Gunshots followed “right after,” Brown said.
Soon later, Brown said, he saw Guyger leave Jean’s apartment and enter the hallway. The officer was on the phone.
She was “crying, explaining what happened, what she thought happened, saying she came in to the wrong apartment,” Brown testified.
Through his peep hole, Brown said he saw the former officer “going back, back and forth on the phone.”
Brown testified he did not hear anyone say anything like, “Stop! Police!” But he said it was difficult to make out the brief and frantic words between Guyger and Jean.

Brown said he heard Jean singing every morning

Jean, an accountant widely described as sunny and loveable, sang so loudly that neighbors could hear it in the hallway.
Lee Merritt
Brown said he heard Jean sing every morning, long before the two ever met in person.
When I come out (to) lock my door, I hear him,” Brown testified. “I heard him singing every morning.”
Jean apparently loved gospel music and Drake.
As Brown described his affable neighbor, he began to cry on the witness stand, wiping tears away with his T-shirt.

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‘The show needed to come back’: how Drake rescued the druglords of Top Boy

It was Britains answer to The Wire. But the gang drama was dead until the rapper stepped in and pitched it to Netflix. Its stars and writer talk grime, gentrification and Boris Johnsons Britain

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I told them I was on my way out to meet some singer called Drake, says writer Ronan Bennett, recalling the unlikely story of how he went out for dinner with the Canadian rapper and somehow managed to make himself seem less cool in front of his children. Drake was a fan of Top Boy, Bennetts Channel 4 drama about the lives of drug dealers and residents on a fictional Hackney estate called Summerhouse. He had been recommended it while on tour and loved it so much, he began posting stills from the show on Instagram with clumsy attempts at London slang (real bod man). When he found out it had been cancelled, he decided to bring it back by teaming up with Bennett and pitching it to Netflix.

The pair arranged a dinner in London to thrash out a plan much to the disbelief of Bennetts kids, who had to inform him he was about to meet one of the biggest pop stars on the planet. My children were like, Whaaaaat? he says. But honestly, I didnt know who he was.

Luckily for Bennett, Netflix and quite a few other people did. He was into the shows music, says Kane Robinson AKA Kano, the grime MC who starred in the original series as Sully, a duplicitous but driven dealer. It wasnt a shock that Drake liked it. What was more shocking was that when he posted about Top Boy, the reaction was mad. Youd wake up and have hundreds of messages.

He understands the culture and saw that [the show] needed to come back, adds Ashley Walters, who plays Dushane, the titular Top Boy who rises from low-level street dealer to potential East End kingpin. We were all on the same page it just happens that hes Drake.

Drake fronted a pitch to Netflix in LA and an hour later they had a deal. But Top Boy wasnt the easiest sell. Originally pitched to the BBC as a one-off TV film, the Beeb balked at the language and its stark gang-related subject matter, so Bennett shopped it to Channel 4, which commissioned it and greenlit a second season. The Independent called it Britains answer to The Wire, while Vice dedicated an oral history to the making of it. The show got a mixed reception from residents of Hackney when the Observer screened it to youth groups, but it was lauded by critics for its brutal portrayal of life in east London just after the 2011 riots.

Top
Top girl Letitia Wright in the original series. Photograph: Tristan Hopkins/Channel 4

Bennett cant remember the reason Channel 4 gave for cancelling, but it felt abrupt and left him shocked with a storyline for a third series that looked destined never to see the light of day. I didnt ever think it was going to come back, says Robinson. It looked like it was a non-starter.

But despite the cancellation, Top Boy didnt disappear completely. Both Robinson and Walters were asked about it incessantly as it began to find another audience, first on DVD and then on Netflix. It became a touchstone in the music world, with such grime acts as Skepta working references into his Mercury prize-winning album, Konnichiwa. It proved to be a hothouse of young black British talent: Michaela Coel had a bit-part in the original series, as did a pre-Black Panther Letitia Wright, who stood out as an ethically compromised young gang member. Other grime MCs, including Scorcher and Bashy, also featured before going on to get parts in films. In 2016, rumours that the show was coming back began circulating. Then, during his sold-out run at the O2 in London this April, Drake played a trailer confirming its return.

The UK has changed a lot since Top Boys debut in 2011, especially in the way gangs are viewed. The rise in knife crime has become part of the national conversation, with the media reporting on such concepts as county lines, in which drug gangs send young members to rural locations to drum up new trade. Drug dealers have never been more under the microscope, especially after 2018, when there were 135 homicides in London, 76 of them stabbings. So was there any hesitation in bringing back Sully and Dushane, dealers who manipulate young kids, murder rivals and use knives?

No, says Bennett without missing a beat. I think its important to bring it back in that context. Why? I consider myself a highly political person in everything I do, says the writer, who up until recently was the chair of his local Labour party. But I never beat the audience over the head with a message. However, I dont think anyone who watches Top Boy would fail to realise that the answer to the question Why is knife crime happening? is simple. Its poverty, exclusion and its racism. Thats why these kids feel completely outside the norms of a society that cold-shoulders them, that closes doors on them, that looks down on them, that despises them. And then its a spiral.

Theyre denied any kind of self-respect. Where are they going to find that respect? They need to feel good about themselves and they need to find that value somewhere. They create a different value system and its one that is deeply, deeply fucked up.

Walters
Belated return Walters and Robinson in the forthcoming third season. Photograph: Netflix/PA

Robinson and Walters think there is an urgent need to bring a gang drama to the screen, believing the new series will provide a vital window into a world that is still misunderstood. The medias attention [to gangs] is on another level, says Robinson. But who are we if were not talking about the current climate? What picture do people want us to paint? Its not a true story but there are a lot of truths within it.

Whoever is outside looking in, says Walters, should see this as correspondence. Youre getting the people who are down there at street level reporting to the rest of the world. Thats what I see Top Boy as, thats what I see Kanes music as. Its important for people to listen and take time to watch whats going on in these shows, especially the ones like Top Boy that are painting an accurate picture.

Poverty
Poverty has a smell. Its cheap, bad food. Its damp, unwashed clothes Ronan Bennett Photograph: Antonio Olmos

That picture isnt pretty. In the new series, which will launch on Netflix in the autumn, theres a glimpse of the harsh life inside British prisons, where disagreements from the street continue to fester. There are young men still children, really forced to look after their families and turn to drug-dealing to provide. An immigration story surfaces that has echoes of the Windrush scandal.

Top Boy has always been about showing the wider view of how societal pressures add to the chaos of street life. In the first two series, we see a salon owner and the manager of a chippy struggling to stay open as rents increase. A mother with mental health issues has to deal with her own problems and the needs of her son, who is perilously close to getting caught up in the drug game. For Bennett, thats all a way to paint a fuller picture of life in breadline Britain.

Until recently, wed go around canvassing [for Labour] and you could literally smell poverty, says Bennett. It has a smell. Its cheap, bad food. Its damp and unwashed clothes. When they open that door, you think, Would I like this life? No. Thats why this happens and thats what Top Boy shows.

Walters believes gentrification plays a part. I think its one of the reasons why a lot of knife crime is happening, he says. What were not talking about is how people are being displaced and how somewhere like Croydon has one of the highest knife crime rates because all the kids from Peckham, Brixton and the surrounding areas were being moved there which created war, essentially, because all the kids were being mixed up together.

Then there are middle-class drug users, who have been accused of fuelling the gang problem. A well-off couple appear in season three is that who Bennett is skewering? Ive seen the whole debate about middle-class drug use, says Bennett, who adds that he has never taken or bought drugs. That obviously happens. I guess thats something people have to confront, but for me the answer is decriminalisation. Nothing else works. Would that include all drugs? Yes. Im in favour of decriminalisation but with regulation. I would say to my kids, Please dont do this. I think its bad for your health and taking drugs is really risky. But this is the way to make it less risky.

Bennett points out that in the Shoreditch restaurant were sitting in, there are probably people who have bought or sold drugs that day. Are they fuelling knife crime? he asks, looking around. I guess. But in a bigger way, its the entire apparatus that weve built around the so-called war on drugs that is responsible.

Theres always been a bleak, nihilistic thread running through Top Boy, as young people without much hope struggle to simply get by. Can Bennett see things getting better in real life under a Boris Johnson government, with the hardline Priti Patel in the Home Office? No, not remotely. If you handpicked a bunch of characters in Britain that have less intelligence, less sympathy and less understanding of the kind of social and economic backgrounds that our characters come from, you could not do a worse job. There is no hope that they will have any understanding of what it would take to solve this problem. They are unbelievably out of touch.

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