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Cassidy charged with hate crime for...

Cassidy charged with hate crime for beheading Satanic statue in Iowa

By: Frank Corder - January 31, 2024

(Photo from X/Twitter)

Michael Cassidy, a former Mississippi congressional and legislative candidate, has now been charged with a hate crime in Iowa for beheading a statue erected by The Satanic Temple at the state’s Capitol.

The incident occurred in December 2023. Cassidy was initially arrested and charged with fourth degree criminal mischief. He was later released.

READ MORE: Former Mississippi congressional and legislative candidate arrested in Iowa for beheading Satanic Temple statue

A report from KCCI TV out of Des Moines on Tuesday revealed that court documents show the cost to replace or repair the statue is between $750 and $1,500, and notes that the act by Cassidy was committed “in violation of individual rights” under Iowa’s hate crime statute.

“Both pieces of evidence bring the charge to 3rd degree-criminal mischief, a class D felony,” KCCI notes.

Cassidy has repeatedly defended his actions across social media interviews, including with Tucker Carlson just days after the incident. He told the former FoxNews host that giving equal time to evil and good is not necessary.

Cassidy, a former U.S. Navy pilot, later posted on X, “To those who think Satanic altars have an equal right to be in Capitols as Nativity scenes: If a group dedicated to the worship of Osama Bin Laden (even if just a bad joke) was organized as ‘a religious group’, should it receive equal access to display a shrine to Bin Laden?”

According to KCCI, the Salem, Massachusetts-based Satanic Temple, founded in 2013, does not believe in Satan but describes itself as a “non-theistic religious organization” that advocates for secularism.

“It is separate from the Church of Satan, which was founded in the 1960s,” KCCI adds.

A GiveSendGo account was created to support Cassidy’s legal expenses, directed to his attorney Davis Younts, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who served in the JAG Corps. To date, that online fundraising has yielded nearly $98,000.

As for why Cassidy was in Iowa in the first place, he told Benny Johnson in an interview that after seeing the statue on social media and then that it remained in the Capitol and was not a joke, he “bought a plane ticket on a whim” to go to see it for himself. When he saw it in person, Cassidy said, “I knew that it couldn’t stand so I took it down.”

Cassidy said after beheading the statue he cleaned up the area and went to security of his own will to turn himself in for the action. He was not immediately given a citation but was later called back to the Capitol complex and given a citation.

As previously reported by Magnolia Tribune, Cassidy is a Maryland native who now resides in Mississippi as a flight instructor. He ran for Congress in the 3rd District in 2022, pushing incumbent Congressman Michael Guest to a runoff in the Republican Primary before losing 67% to 33%. Cassidy then ran unsuccessfully in 2023 for the Legislature, vying for House District 45. He was unopposed in the Republican Primary in August but lost the November General Election to Democrat Keith Jackson by a vote of 55% to 38% in the three-man contest.

Cassidy will be arraigned in Iowa on February 15.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father. Email Frank: