Man charged with vandalizing statue in Iowa Capitol Satanic Temple display

DES MOINES — A man from Mississippi who’s a former Navy pilot has been charged with vandalizing the Satanic Temple of Iowa’s holiday display in the Iowa Capitol.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety says 35-year-old Michael Cassidy of Lauderdale, Mississippi was arrested, charged with criminal mischief in the fourth degree and released. The Satanic Temple of Iowa announced early Thursday that the statue in its Iowa Capitol display had been “damaged beyond repair.”

According to a conservative website called The Sentinel, Cassidy beheaded the statue. Cassidy is quoted on the site saying he did so to “awaken Christians” to the “anti-Christian values” that are being mainstreamed. The founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative youth organization, has pledged $10,000 to support a legal defense fund for Cassidy.

The Satanic Temple of Iowa had planned to take down its display Friday, but will leave what’s left in the Iowa Capitol for a few more days.