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No hate-crime charges for man who damaged Pride crosswalk in Delray Beach

Alexander Jerich, 20, charged with felony criminal mischief, misdemeanor reckless driving
A vandalized LGBTQ Pride intersection and crosswalk at Northeast First Street and Northeast Second Avenue in Delray Beach on June 17, 2021.jpg
Posted at 1:40 PM, Aug 05, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The man accused of damaging a Pride crosswalk in Delray Beach had charges filed against him Thursday.

Alexander Jerich, 20, is facing a felony criminal mischief charge of more than $1,000 and a misdemeanor reckless driving charge.

According to Delray Beach police, Jerich was driving a white Chevrolet truck and taking part in a "President (Donald) Trump Birthday Rally" in June when he did an intentional tire burnout through the intersection, defacing it with black skid marks.

Police said the birthday rally was advertised on the Palm Beach County Republican Executive Committee's website, and about 30 vehicles met in the area of West Atlantic Avenue and Lyons Road to take part in the demonstration.

The route for the rally weaved through several streets in Delray Beach and also went directly through the new LGBTQ Pride crosswalk and intersection, police said.

State Attorney Dave Aronberg said police originally arrested Jerich on a hate-crime charge, but after further review, prosecutors could not apply that charge.

"The law requires that the defendant select a specific victim based on sexual orientation," Aronberg said. "Since the Pride streetscape is the property of the city of Delray Beach, the city is the named victim."

WATCH: Dave Aronberg explains charges

State Attorney Dave Aronberg explains why Pride crosswalk vandalism suspect not charged with hate crime

He said the city cannot be a victim with sexual orientation and, therefore, it cannot be applied as a hate crime.

Aronberg added that prosecutors also looked at the new anti-riot law that went into effect this year. It includes punishing someone for vandalizing a memorial. He said the streetscape did not meet all the criteria for his office to feel comfortable charging Jerich with this new law.

"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.

The crosswalk is still not repaired in downtown Delray Beach. The city has been waiting to figure out what can be done to fix it and told WPTV previously the entire crosswalk would need to be repainted, costing thousands of dollars.

Originally, the Pride streetscape was paid for by donations from the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, but any repairs would be paid for by the city taxpayers.

Aronberg said he is seeking restitution for Jerich to pay for the damages.

During Thursday's hearing, Jerich and his lawyer joined by Zoom and maintained his not guilty plea.