Trump fan who defaced Pride mural forced to write 25-page essay on Pulse nightclub massacre
A man who vandalised a LGBT+ street design during a pro-Trump rally in Florida has been ordered to write an essay about the Pulse nightclub massacre.
A Palm Beach County circuit judge ordered Alexander Jerich, 20, on Thursday (21 April) to write 25 pages about the deadly Pulse nightclub shooting in 2016 that killed 49 people and left 53 others injured.
Judge Scott Suskauer told Jerich that he must research the backgrounds of the 49 people killed at the Orlando nightclub and the loved ones left behind as a result of the tragedy, the Palm Beach Post reported.
“I want your own brief summary of why people are so hateful and why people lash out against the gay community,” Suskauer added.
Jerich was arrested after he used a truck to burn tire marks into a rainbow-coloured Pride crosswalk at an intersection in Delray Beach in June 2021. The incident occurred while Jerich was taking part in a rally for Donald Trump’s birthday, and a blue “All Aboard the Trump Train” flag could be seen on the truck.
A video quickly went viral online showing Jerich defacing the LGBT+ design in a truck registered to his dad. Delray Beach Police told the Hill at the time that the incident caused “significant damage to the streetscape painting”.
In March, Jerich pled guilty to felony criminal mischief and reckless driving charges, CBS12 reported.
Prosecutors are asking for the courts to give Jerich 30 days in jail, a community service sentence and to place him on probation for at least five years, the Associated Press reported.
Jerich’s attorney Robert Pasch said the 20-year-old should only receive a sentence of three years probation alongside community service that will act “restoratively with input from the LGBTQ community”, according to BuzzFeed.
Pasch said in the sentencing recommendation that Jerich “acknowledges and regrets the pain and anger felt by members of the LGBTQ community” as a result of his actions.
In a victim impact statement, Rand Hoch, president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, told the court that Jerich never apologised to LGBT+ groups in the area for his actions.
Hoch wrote that Jerich was “not just a young man fooling around with his truck” but was an individual who wanted to make a “very public statement against the LGBTQ+ community”.
“And he did,” Hoch said. “At a welcoming public venue representing inclusion, Jerich literally left marks of hate.”
According to the Associated Press, the rainbow LGBT+ street design was unveiled just a day before the incident to celebrate Pride Month in the area.
Jerich must complete his essay about the Pulse nightclub shooting before his sentencing hearing on 8 June.
The mass shooting in the Pulse nightclub remains the single deadliest attack on the LGBT+ community in the history of the US, and it sent shockwaves throughout queer communities across the globe.
In the years since, the families and loved ones of those who were killed have worked to ensure that those who lose their lives will not be forgotten.
President Joe Biden signed a law in June last year that designated the site of the Pulse nightclub shooting as a national memorial. Biden, who was vice president when the shooting occurred, signed the legislation at a White House ceremony attended by survivors of the 2016 attack.
“Just over five years ago, the Pulse Nightclub – a place of acceptance and joy – became a place of unspeakable pain and loss, and we’ll never fully recover from it, but we’ll remember,” he said.
He added that he hoped “no president” would “ever have to sign another monument like this” in the future.