Two Baltimore women have been charged with a hate crime for burning a sign promoting President Donald Trump.
The women, both 19, allegedly set the Trump sign on fire and were arrested for the incident on April 14. They have been slapped with multiple charges, including second-degree arson, malicious destruction of property, and the commission of a hate crime, according to Fox News.
"An ongoing investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office and Princess Anne Police Department has lead to a second arrest in reference to a fire involving a billboard sign," wrote the Office of the State Fire Marshall in Maryland. "The incident occurred on April 14th in the area of 12138 Carole Lane in Princess Anne of Somerset County. On Saturday, April 15th, Joy M. Shuford (19) of Owings Mills, voluntarily turned herself in for her involvement in the incident."
The statement continued:
Shuford was taken into custody at the Princess Anne Police Department and subsequently charged. She was charged with Second Degree Arson, four counts of Second Degree Malicious Burning, six counts of Second Degree Malicious Destruction of Property, Trespassing, Obstruction & Hindering, and the Commission of a Hate Crime. Shuford was released on a $20,000 unsecured bond.The initial incident caused damage to a billboard sign identified as a campaign ad for President Trump. The fire spread to vegetation in the immediate area but was quickly controlled by the Princess Anne Fire Department. Damages due to the fire are estimated to be $800.
According to the Baltimore Sun, a police officer from Princess Anne justified the hate crime charges by alleging that "The intentional burning of these political signs, along with the beliefs, religious views and race of this political affiliation, directly coincides with the victim."
Caryn L. McMahon, deputy-chief fire marshal, said police charged the women with a hate crime because they considered the act a form of "discrimination or malice toward a particular group, or someone's belief."
Editors of the Baltimore Sun published an op-ed April 19 condemning the hate crime classification of the women's allegedly actions.
"What Maryland's hate crime statute prohibits is violence, harassment or destruction of property 'because of another's race, color, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or national origin, or because another is homeless.' Political beliefs don't make the list," wrote the Baltimore Sun opinion writers.
The Baltimore Sun argued that the suspects are being charged with hate crimes, in part, because they are not white.
"Police list no evidence that either woman made any statements or gestures or used any symbols related to race, ethnicity, religion or anything else mentioned in the hate crime statute," wrote the Baltimore Sun.
The newspaper added: "The only way to make any sense of this charge is to assume that anyone who is a minority... who dislikes President Trump must then automatically hate white people and Christians. Put another way, the Princess Anne police evidently think that to be a Trump supporter is synonymous with being white and Christian."