Last July, you may recall, the FBI and Arlington Police Department confirmed that they were investigating a series of incidents at the Dar El-Eman Islamic Center on Mansfield Road in Arlington, where a playground was set on fire and "explicit images" were spray-painted on the parking lot. Said an Arlington PD release at the time, local and federal authorities were "looking into these occurrences and if there is any indication that a crime was committed based on race and/or religion."
Turns out, it was: The U.S. Department of Justice just sent word that 34-year-old Henry Clay Glaspell -- who was arrested in August of last year -- pleaded guilty today in federal court in Fort Worth to a hate crime charge stemming from the attacks on the mosque. Says the DOJ's release:
Glaspell admitted that he set fire to playground equipment at the mosque as part of a series of ethnically motivated acts directed at individuals of Arab or Middle Eastern descent associated with the mosque. Glaspell further admitted that he stole and damaged mosque property, threw used cat litter at the front door of the mosque, and shouted racial or ethnic slurs at individuals of Arab or Middle Eastern descent at the mosque on multiple occasions. This is the 50th prosecution of post-Sept. 11, 2001, backlash against Arab and Muslim Americans.
"Arab-Americans are part of the American family, and the defendant today admitted that he targeted Arabs at a Mosque where people worship peacefully and children play," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Hate-fueled incidents of this kind will not be tolerated in our country. The Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting hate crimes against all persons.
"All members of our community must be free to live without fear that they will be targeted because of their ethnicity or religion. This office will vigorously prosecute those who commit such despicable acts of hatred," said U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas James T. Jacks.
"The crime in this case underscores the importance of enforcing the nation's civil rights laws, and the FBI is firmly committed to that enforcement. One of our most important responsibilities is protecting the right to worship free from violence, fear or intimidation," said Robert E. Casey Jr., Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Dallas Division. "As this case indicates, the FBI, together with and our state and local law enforcement allies, will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who attack that right."
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Glaspell's sentencing has been set for July 11. He faces a max sentence of 20 years in prison for "using fire to damage religious property in violation of federal hate crimes laws," says the DOJ.