Florida man sentenced to 15 years in prison for leaving piece of bacon in front of mosque
Hate crime is often not viewed to be as serious as other crimes. Following the 15-year sentencing of 37-year-old Michael Wolfe for leaving a piece of bacon in front of a mosque, is the trend set to change?
The Florida man who vandalized a mosque in Titusville, Brevard County, Florida in January 2016 by leaving a raw piece of bacon on its doorstep has been sentenced to 15 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to the charges, according to the state attorney's office.
37-year-old Titusville resident Michael Wolfe is now set to serve 15 years in state prison, followed by a further 15 years probation for his indiscretion at the Islamic Society of Central Florida Masjid Al-Munin Mosque. According to Todd Brown, the spokesman for Florida's 18th Judicial District, he pleaded guilty on Tuesday to criminal mischief to a place of worship in an act that constituted a felony hate crime.
Prosecutors said that the sentencing was reached after deliberation with the Islamic Society of Central Florida and Titusville police, with Brown saying that Wolfe waived his right to a pre-sentencing investigation. While a motive was not revealed, and Brown said that: "He entered a plea deal and plead guilty to vandalizing the mosque itself with hate crime enhancement, making it a felony."
Surveillance video of the 2016 incident shows a man with a shaved head and wearing camouflage gear breaking the windows, cameras, and lights at the said mosque with a machete, and then proceeded to place the piece of pork at its doorstep. Muslims are forbidden from consuming pork products according to the Holy Quran because it is regarded as impure, unhealthy, and harmful for the religion.
According to Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), hate groups in the US have been increasingly using such measures to desecrate mosques in the country. The Florida CAIR branch agreed with the harsh sentencing by the court, with the branch's spokesman Wilfredo Ruiz releasing a statement which read: "The Florida Muslim Community is suffering an unprecedented number of hate crimes. Multiple mosques and Islamic Institutions have been broken into, vandalized, and even set on fire."
Imam Muhammad Musri, who oversees a network of mosques in Central Florida, similarly praised the prosecutor's office effort to send a message to those who commit hate crimes. He told Florida Today: "The intent is to really deter similar kinds of hate crime. After what we've seen in Texas at the church, this is needed. Our schools, our churches, our theaters, it's a red line. It's heartbreaking. The hate must stop."
Wolfe is a habitual offender who has a previous criminal history. According to Brevard County records, he has had multiple run-ins with the law dating back to 1998. His convictions include burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and grand theft in 2004, for which he was sentenced to two years, seven months, and two days in prison, and a burglary of a conveyance in 2011, for which he was sentenced to 64 days in county jail.
He was also fined and sentenced to probation after a 2001 burglary and has been found guilty in three DUI offenses, possession of hydrocodone and cannabis, and an array of traffic violations according to the Florida Times.
Muslim organizations in the country will be of the hope that Wolfe's sentencing begins a trend where hate crimes are punished appropriately and that the offender does not get away with simply a rap on the wrists. To put into perspective how strict both the prosecutors and the court were with Wolfe, you can take into account the fact that 15 years is the minimum jail term a criminal in the country gets having committed 1st-degree manslaughter with a firearm.
According to OLR Research Report, it is also the sentence once gets for assault of elderly, blind, disabled, or pregnant persons, as well as burglary of the 1st degree - i.e the offender used explosives, deadly weapons, or other dangerous instruments. The few crimes that have harsher sentencing are truly the despicable ones; possession of child pornography, aiding and abetting terrorism, 1st-degree kidnapping, 1st-degree murder.
Here's the video of the man committing the crime.
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