FACT CHECK: Was A Florida Man Charged With A Hate Crime For Ruining A Pride Crosswalk?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A video shared on Twitter claims a Florida man was charged with a hate crime for ruining a pride crosswalk with his truck.

Verdict: Misleading

While the man was originally arrested on a hate crime charge, he was charged with criminal mischief and reckless driving. He pled guilty to the charges.

Fact Check:

Hundreds of protesters marched in West Hollywood, California, to protest against anti-LGBT legislation across the country, according to ABC7. Approximately 400 bills have been deemed as transphobic or homophobic, the outlet reported.

The Twitter video shows a truck with a Trump flag driving over a crosswalk with Pride colors and leaving skid marks. The video’s caption reads, “Florida man charged with a Hate Crime for using his pickup truck to ruin a Pride Crosswalk.”

However, this claim is misleading. The video shows Alexander Jerich, who was 20 at the time of the incident, driving his truck over an intersection painted with the Pride flag colors in June 2021 and leaving skid marks across it, according to the Sun Sentinel. He was originally charged with criminal mischief, reckless driving and evidence of prejudice, the outlet reported.

Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg said that he could not charge Jerich with a hate crime because Jerich’s victim was the city, according to the Sun Sentinel. The outlet reported that gay rights advocates “expressed frustration” that Jerich was not charged with a hate crime by the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office. (RELATED: Did Donald Trump Make This Post Stating His Own Indictment Would Be An Indictment Of All?)

“Since the Pride streetscape does not specifically honor or recount any resident’s past or present public service, it would not meet the third requirement of this new law — and not beyond a reasonable doubt,” Aronberg said at the time, according to WPTV.

Jerich pled guilty in March 2022 to felony criminal mischief and reckless driving, according to WPTV. He was sentenced to two years probation, 100 hours of community service, and had to pay $733 in court costs, the outlet reported.

Marc Freeman, a spokesperson for the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office, pointed Check Your Fact to public remarks made by Aronberg about “why our office was unable under state law to charge it as a hate crime.”

“Our prosecutor requested jail time, but the judge opted against it and chose a different punishment,” Freeman said.

This is not the first time false claims of LGBT monuments being vandalized have circulated on social media. Check Your Fact recently debunked a claim suggesting a stairway allegedly connected to the LGBT was demolished for being “propaganda.”

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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