A New York man has been charged with a hate crime for committing a downright ridiculous crime. Francis Solis reportedly set fire to a rainbow-painted bench, and his reason why is making media headlines. Gay Star News reports that the 47-year-old man turned himself in to authorities after vandalizing the bench, but he also offered an interesting reason for why he did it.
Solis told authorities in Ogdensburg that he was angry by what the bench represented. The rainbow-painted bench was on display outside of the First Presbyterian Church in Ogdensburg, as a symbolic way to express that the congregation was in support of the LGBTQ community. The man told authorities that he hated what the bench was condoning, and he wanted to desecrate it to “send it back to hell.”
The attack on the rainbow bench was planned for two days, according to the man’s written confession. He also blamed the gay community for alleged sexual abuse he endured as a child. He wrote about his anger in his statement.
“The reaction I had to it practically knocked me off my bike. It brought back every single memory from the time I had been molested from the time I was eight years old, on into the time I was 14 years old.”
The New York man reportedly used three bottles of gasoline to douse the bench, before igniting it with a disposable lighter and shredded pieces of egg carton. When he was done, he went to St. Mary’s Cathedral and prayed. Fox News 28 reports that Solis was charged with a hate crime due to the homophobic motivation behind the burning of the bench.
This isn’t the first time someone has committed a hateful act of vandalism against the LGBTQ community. Recently, a Texas man was targeted in a hate crime after someone stole a float device from his pool, only to return it with the hateful words “Gay/Aids Robert” on it, along with his apartment number.
People have also been known to hoax anti-gay hate crimes, which has only attracted negative attention to the struggles of actual victims. A Utah man recently admitted to inflicting injuries on himself in an attempt to get attention. He had originally reported that anti-gay attackers carved “Die fag” into his arm in an apparent hate crime assault.
Francis Solis is currently being held on $5,000 bond, but has not reportedly posted the amount. He remains jailed and is expected to be arraigned sometime next week. Meanwhile, police have confirmed that he turned himself in because he felt like he’d be identified eventually in the crime.
[Photo: Ogdensburg Police mugshot]