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Veteran Accused of Toppling Satan Statue Charged with Hate Crime

Over $100,000 has been raised to cover Michael Cassidy's legal fees

Veteran Accused of Toppling Satan Statue Charged with Hate Crime

The man accused of destroying a statue installed at the Iowa Capitol by the Satanic Temple has been charged with a hate crime.

Michael Cassidy of Lauderdale, Mississippi allegedly “destroyed beyond repair” the statue – which featured a mannequin with a mirror-covered goat skull wearing a cloak – on Dec. 14. Under Iowa state law, religious displays are allowed in the capitol during the holiday season. 

“My conscience is held captive to the word of God, not to bureaucratic decree. And so I acted,” Cassidy told The Sentinel. He described the statue as “blasphemous.”

“The world may tell Christians to submissively accept the legitimization of Satan, but none of the founders would have considered government sanction of Satanic altars inside Capitol buildings as protected by the First Amendment,” he added. “Anti-Christian values have steadily been mainstreamed more and more in recent decades, and Christians have largely acted like the proverbial frog in the boiling pot of water.”

The former Navy pilot immediately surrendered himself to police and was charged with criminal mischief by state law enforcement on Dec. 15. Cassidy has now been charged with felony third-degree criminal mischief by the Polk County prosecutors, who argue that he acted  "in violation of individual rights" that violate the state’s hate crime laws warranting a violation enhancement.

"Evidence shows the defendant made statements to law enforcement and the public indicating he destroyed the property because of the victim’s religion," said Lynn Hicks, a spokesman for the Polk County Attorney's Office, per the Des Moines Register.

According to court documents, replacing or repairing the Satan statue cost between $750 to $1,500.

Cassidy was released after his initial arrest in December. His arraignment is scheduled for Feb. 15.

Lucien Greaves, the co-founder of the Satanic Temple, said in December that the display was about his group’s right to religious freedom.

“We're going to really relish the opportunity to be represented in a public forum,” said Greaves while speaking with KCCI. “We don't have a church on every street corner. … My feeling is if people don't like our display in public forums, they don't have to engage with them. They don't have to view them.”

The statue’s display in the capitol was denounced by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, who called the display “objectionable.”

In a free society, the best response to objectionable speech is more speech, and I encourage all those of faith to join me today in praying over the Capitol and recognizing the nativity scene that will be on display – the true reason for the season,” she said in a statement on Dec. 12.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vowed to support Cassidy after he allegedly vandalized the Satan statue.

Satan has no place in our society and should not be recognized as a ‘religion’ by the federal government. I'll chip in to contribute to this veteran's legal defense fund,” he wrote in a Dec. 15 post on X. “Good prevails over evil — that's the American spirit.”

A fundraiser for Cassidy’s legal defense has raised over $107,000 on GiveSendGo.

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