Member of pro-Nazi group arrested for allegedly firebombing church planning drag event
A member of the pro-Nazi group White Lives Matter of Ohio was arrested Friday after he allegedly threw molotov cocktails at a church planning to hold a drag event.
Aimenn Penny threw molotov cocktails at the Community Church of Chesterland, outside Cleveland, on March 25, according to investigators. The attack left scorch marks on the church and broke a sign, but did no significant damage.
Penny was charged with arson and possession of a destructive device.
He was a known figure in the White Lives Matter group, which protested a drag event in Ohio earlier this month with swastika flags, shouting slurs and praising Hitler, according to FBI investigators.
In an interaction with police at that event, Penny, who is white, said that he is awaiting a national race war, and that he believes all other races have to be eliminated for the U.S. to prosper, according to investigators.
Community Church of Chesterland plans to host a drag event on Saturday. The church has claimed to receive numerous complaints and threats about the event, and is anticipating “potentially violent hate groups” to protest, according to a Facebook post by church leadership.
After the attack, investigators were able to track Penny’s phone to the church on the night of the arson. The FBI then searched his home and car on Friday and interviewed Penny, who confessed, according to investigators.
He told investigators that wanted to “protect children and stop the drag show event.”
“Penny stated that night he became more and more angry after watching internet videos of news feeds and drag shows in France and decided to attack the church,” the arresting complaint says. “Penny stated that he would have felt better if the Molotov cocktails were more effective and burned the entire church to the ground.”
When his home was searched, investigators found Nazi paraphernalia including swastika flags, a While Lives Matter of Ohio shirt and materials like those used to create the Molotov cocktails.
Church leadership made a statement to its Facebook page shortly after the arrest.
“While we are sorry this happened and forgive the individual in question, we would like to see him prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law as a way to send a message to other like minded people and groups that violence as a form of coercion to advance any kind of agenda is unacceptable in 2023,” they said.
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