Two female teens have been charged with a hate crime for allegedly attempting to burn a Donald Trump sign outside a store in Maryland using a car cigarette lighter.
The 19 year-old teens who were identified by the name Joy Shuford and D’Asia Perry, were charged with igniting the sign in Princess Anne, Maryland, some 90 miles southeast of Baltimore, on April 14.
After examining the surveillance footage, the authorities were able to identify Perry who was the first suspect to be arrested. Subsequently, Shuford turned herself in to police on Saturday, Delmarva Daily Times reported.
Court documents state that Shuford had initially planned to pull the sign down but when she wasn’t physically able to do so, she fetched her car cigarette lighter and began to burn it.
‘Shuford stated that she attempted to rip it down but that it was screwed in and tough to pull down. Furthermore, she said returned to the vehicle, grabbed a lighter and went back to the sign to light it on fire.’
The Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office said that the teens have been charged with several offenses, such as second-degree arson and undertaking a hate crime as a result.
“The intentional burning of these political signs, along with the beliefs, religious views and race of this political affiliation, directly coincides with the victim,” read the Princess Anne police documents on why the police officers believe a hate crime had been committed.
The Baltimore Sun reports that neither women have attorneys and nor have commented on the story officially.
The deputy chief fire marshal supported the police’s position by stating they identified the motive as “discrimination or malice toward a particular group, or someone’s belief,” according to The Baltimore Sun.
The two minors were released after coming up with a $20,000 bond.
However, new updates regarding the case have been released indicating that the hate-crime charges, including the second-degree arson, were dropped. The Baltimore Sun reports: “The decision to dismiss the charges was based upon a joint decision between the Princess Anne Police Department and the Somerset County State’s Attorney’s Office upon reviewing the case,” according to a statement from Timothy R. Bozman, chief of the Princess Anne Police Department.
David Rocah, a senior attorney with the ACLU of Maryland, said it was “beyond absurd” that the hate-crime statute was used in this case and reflects “a profound misunderstanding of what the Maryland hate-crime statute says. Furthermore, he added: “Burning someone’s political sign isn’t a hate crime.”
Both women still face charges which include malicious burning, trespassing, and malicious destruction of property. The two have trials scheduled for May 22.