Texan guilty in mosque playground fire

Feb. 24, 2011 at 3:06 AM
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FORT WORTH, Texas, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- A Texas man pleaded guilty Wednesday to setting fire to playground equipment at a mosque in Arlington, an act authorities called a hate crime.

Henry Clay Glaspell, 34, of Arlington, Texas, faces up to 20 years in federal prison when he is sentenced July 11 for the ethnically motivated arson at the Dar El-Eman Islamic Center last July, the Justice Department said in a release.

Glaspell pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Fort Worth to damaging religious property in violation of federal hate crime laws. He admitted he set fire to the mosque's playground equipment as part of a series of acts directed at people of Arab or Middle Eastern descent associated with the mosque.

He also admitted stealing and damaging mosque property, throwing used cat litter at the mosque's front door, and shouting racial or ethnic slurs at individuals of Arab or Middle Eastern descent at the mosque on multiple occasions.

"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," Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, said. "Hate-fueled incidents of this kind will not be tolerated in our country."

U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks called Glaspell's actions "despicable acts of hatred."

"All members of our community must be free to live without fear that they will be targeted because of their ethnicity or religion," he said.

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