A member of a neo-Nazi group was arrested Friday after attempting to burn down a church in Ohio that was planning to host a drag event.
According to a criminal complaint, Aimenn D. Penny, 20, of Alliance, Ohio, was charged in the US District Court in Cleveland with one count of malicious use of explosive materials and one count of possessing a destructive device,
The DOJ’s Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen said in a press release that Penny used,
Molotov cocktails against the Community Church of Chesterland in Chesterland, Ohio, in an attempt to burn the church to the ground.
As alleged in the charging documents, the defendant used an explosive device to cause harm to a church he found objectionable.
It is the solemn duty of the Department of Justice to safeguard the right of all Americans to free expression, and I commend the work of law enforcement in this matter.”
“According to charging documents, Aimenn Penny — who investigators say is part of the pro-Nazi and anti-gay group — admitted to using vodka, beer bottles and gasoline to target the Community Church of Chesterfield outside of Toledo.”— Alex ⁷ ⟭⟬ 🏳️🌈 💜 ⟬⟭ (@aleximenez) April 1, 2023
Aimenn's twitter: https://t.co/9FvPjruHCu https://t.co/15C82PaSa8 pic.twitter.com/eyCblcqJSN
The FBI claims Penny is a member of White Lives Matter, a pro-Nazi group, according to an affidavit filed in court Friday.
The FBI said the group has
racist, pro-Nazi, and homophobic views.”
Penny confessed he attempted to burn down the church using Molotov cocktails,
to protect the children and stop the drag show event.”
The affidavit alleges the Ohio church was targeted in the early hours of Saturday, March 25 and that Penny traveled to Wadsworth, Ohio, on March 11, where he attended a drag queen story hour to
distribute propaganda flyers (sic) representing White Lives Matter Ohio’s anti-drag queen views.”
Rev. Jess Peacock told CNN that they went ahead with hosting the drag queen story hour and brunch event Saturday.
Peacock said it’s not the first time the church has been targeted.
There hasn’t been a day or two where I have not received hate messages from my personal phone.
We hold no ill will against this man whatsoever. We forgive this individual. But we do want this individual to be prosecuted to the fullest extent. Just to send a message and have them think twice about attacking a synagogue, a church or a mosque.
We want to see peace, not violence.”
According to the DOJ, if convicted, Penny could face a mandatory minimum of five years and up to 20 years in prison for the malicious use of explosive materials charge and up to 10 years in prison for the possession of a destructive device charge.
Aimenn Penny allegedly attempted to burn down the Community Church of Chesterland in Chesterland, Ohio, on March 25 using Molotov cocktails. https://t.co/OleYtEokDe— The Advocate (@TheAdvocateMag) April 3, 2023
(Photos, DOJ, Twitter; via CNN)