Two Maryland teenagers accused of setting a "Make America Great Again" sign on fire now face hate crime charges.
Baltimore native D'Asia Perry and Joy Shuford of Owings Mills, both 19, were accused of setting fire to a sign in Princess Anne along Maryland's Eastern shore. The sign had been set on fire and stolen previously, The Baltimore Sun reports. The most recent burning on Friday morning dealt $800 worth of damages as it spread to nearby vegetation.
Jamie Wink, son of sign owner Robert Wink, said the Trump sign wasn't badly damaged, but an attached sign for Kathy Szeliga, who ran an unsuccessful Senate campaign, was melted in the fire.
A Princess Anne Police officer said the signs were "intentionally burned" due to the Winks' political and religious beliefs. The Wink family said the sign next to the family business, Wink's Sporting Goods, has become a minor tourist attraction as people pose for selfies.
It's been a pretty good attention-getter.
Police documents allege surveillance videos captured a person leaving a Volkswagen Beetle and lighting a nearby sign on fire before getting back in the car and being driven away. Police identified Perry as the Beetle's driver.
Deputy chief fire marshal Caryn L. McMahon said hate crime charges were the result of "discrimination or malice toward a particular group."
Burning a sign is NOT a hate crime. Vandalism yes, hate crime no. I must say that it's nice to know there are anti-Trump teens in America.— Billie Stewart (@bstewart0310) April 20, 2017
Some observers saw the punishment as too harsh.
Arson, sure. Criminal trespass, yes. Hate crime? When did political affiliation become an ethnic/religious cohort? https://t.co/VDwNoLKtaj— David Simon (@AoDespair) April 19, 2017
WHAAAAT??! Exhibiting a Trump sign should be a hate crime! 😡— Linda McDonald (@landscapedziner) April 20, 2017
Oh, come on, a hate crime for lighting a Trump sign on fire? I'm sure the courts will have a field day with this one.— This Just In (@ThisJustInLIVE) April 20, 2017
Burning U.S. flag is freedom of speech but burning Trump sign is hate crime?— Mike Ponsford (@ponsford_mike) April 20, 2017
Wish I had caught those ripping down my Trump signs! Maryland: teens charged with "hate crime" for destroying sign! https://t.co/kE589KHcUX— Ann Corcoran (@RefugeeWatcher) April 20, 2017
But Trump supporters didn't see a problem.