Offensive graffiti that covered the exterior walls of an Indiana church days after the November 2016 presidential election was the work of the church's organist, authorities concluded after a six-month investigation into the potential hate crime.
The graffiti included the words "Heil Trump," a gay slur, and a Nazi swastika, the Washington Post reported at the time of an incident that made national headlines.
The church reverend theorized at the time that the congregation was targeted because of its inclusiveness, the Post added.
Brown County prosecutors have now charged church organist George Nathaniel Stang, 26, with the misdemeanor of institutional criminal mischief. Stang apparently claimed originally that he was first on the scene on the Sunday morning in question to discover the graffiti.
Detectives suspected that the perpetrator had familiarity with the small church rather than being an outsider who was connected to a hate group, and they pulled cell phone records which apparently placed the organist in the church area on the night before.
If convicted, the suspect faces up to one year behind bars and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Stang, who apparently is no fan of President Trump, confessed in a three-page handwritten statement that he sought to "mobilize a movement" given his disappointment with or fear about the national election results, NBC Indianapolis affiliate WTHR reported.
"'I suppose I wanted to give local people a reason to fight for good, even if it was a false flag,' he wrote. 'To be clear my actions were not motivated by hate for the church or its congregation. I of course realize now, this was NOT the way to go about inspiring activism."In a lengthy statement about the vandalism, Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of the Indianapolis Episcopal Diocese offered these thoughts.
"I was saddened to learn this morning that the vandalism of St. David's Church in Bean Blossom was committed by the church's organist, Nathan Stang, who has admitted to police that he spray painted hateful graffiti on the church last November in the wake of the presidential election. This was a hurtful, dishonest, and profoundly misguided action that stands against the values of the people of this diocese and the Episcopal Church, and we will continue to cooperate with the authorities who are pursuing this case..."Hate crime hoaxes, when they allegedly occur, prevent law enforcement authorities from deploying resources to investigate real hate crimes. Although various media organizations claim a surge in hate crimes since the 2016 presidential election in which Donald Trump emerged the victor, apparently, some of them appear to be hoaxes, as the Inquisitr has chronicled.
Last month, for example, cops arrested an Indiana State University professor in connection with an alleged hate crime hoax. Authorities charged him with obstruction of justice (a felony) and harassment (a misdemeanor). Authorities indicated that the man made up anti-Muslim threats.
A Beloit College student was arrested in February on various charges for what police say amounts to an apparent or potential hate crime hoax involving anti-Muslim threats and symbols in his dorm that he had reported as a threat to his religion and ethnicity. Police say the student spray-painted the offensive imagery himself.
An anti-Muslim, headline-making hate crime in December of 2016 against a University of Michigan student in which a suspect threatened to set her hijab on fire was apparently made up, Ann Arbor police detectives concluded, after interviewing witnesses and poring over surveillance footage.
Also in December, authorities arrested a suspect in connection with an arson incident in which a black church in Mississippi was burned and the words "Vote Trump" were spray-painted on its walls. The suspect is an African-American man.Following an initial complaint that generated national coverage, the NYPD charged a Muslim student, who claimed she was harassed by Trump supporters on a subway, with filing a false police report.
Elsewhere, a Florida man involved in a dispute over child custody was accused of setting his ex-girlfriend's car on fire, as well a leaving a note with the words "KKK" and "Trump" in the woman's mailbox. He also allegedly faked his own kidnapping.
Philadelphia police arrested a South Jersey man for allegedly spray-painting racist, pro-Trump messages on several cars on the morning after the November 8 presidential election. The suspect, who was arrested two weeks later, allegedly is the ex-boyfriend of one of the property-damage victims, the Philadelphia Inquirer/Daily News reported, and the victim and her daughter, who are black, identified the suspect when detectives showed them some surveillance footage. The suspect is also African-American, Breitbart News added.
A Chicago college student allegedly faked an incident in which she claimed to have received anti-gay, pro-Trump notes and emails, according to the educational institution's president, who also indicated that the student is no longer enrolled there.
Separately, a Boston-area man reportedly admitted to lodging a fake hate crime complaint about being accosted by two alleged Trump supporters."The men used a racial slur, made a reference to lynching and warned him 'this is Donald 'Trump country now,' according to the report he gave police," the Boston Herald detailed. Malden, Massachusetts, police subsequently determined that the story was a complete fabrication.
As the Inquisitr also previously outlined, a University of Louisiana-Lafayette student acknowledged that she made up a story about being assaulted, robbed, and having her hijab torn off by two men, one of whom was wearing a Trump hat. The Lafayette Police Department later announced that it was no longer investigating after the alleged victim admitted to the fabrication. According to CBS New Orleans affiliate WWL-TV, authorities plan to charge the woman, 18, with filing a false report.
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