18 years for man who firebombed church hosting drag show

Aimeen Penny, 20, pleaded guilty to arson and a hate crime after throwing molotov cocktails at a church hosting a drag show. He was sentenced to a total of 18 years in federal prison. Penny was a member of White Lives Matter, a Nazi group in Ohio, and watched drag shows obsessively online in the days leading to the incident, all the while urging others to commit violent acts and ultimately doing so himself.

Aimenn D. Penny, 20, of Alliance, Ohio, was arrested and charged last year with one count of violating the Church Arson Prevention Act, one count of using fire to commit a federal felony, one count of malicious use of explosive materials, and one count of possessing a destructive device.  On Oct. 23, 2023, Penny pleaded guilty to the church arson hate crime and using fire and explosives to commit a felony. 

According to court documents, on March 25, 2023, Penny made Molotov cocktails and drove to the Community Church of Chesterland (CCC), in Chesterland, Ohio. Angered by the church's plan to host two drag events the following weekend, Penny threw two Molotov cocktails at the church, hoping to burn it to the ground. Through Penny's guilty plea, he admitted to using force through fire and explosives, intending to obstruct CCC congregants in their enjoyment and expression of their religious beliefs.

"This sentence holds Mr. Penny accountable for carrying out violence against an Ohio church because he disagreed with the way congregants chose to express their beliefs," said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department's National Security Division. "Such acts of extremist violence have no place in our communities and the Justice Department is committed to bringing to justice those who would use or threaten violence to prevent their fellow citizens from freely exercising their fundamental rights."

Can't stop thinking about the "obsessively watching drag shows" part.

Previously: Federal judge rules that Tennessee's ban on drag shows is unconstitutional