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Former Mississippi political candidate accused of destroying Satanic display in Iowa to be arraigned

Michael Cassidy

Michael Cassidy, a former Mississippi political candidate, is set to be arraigned on Thursday on a hate crime charge stemming back to a viral incident in Iowa last year in which he allegedly tore down a Satanic display at the state capitol.

Cassidy, 35, was initially charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief after officials said he vandalized the Satanic Temple’s Baphomet display inside the Iowa Statehouse in mid-December. The display included a ram’s head made of mirrors on top of a mannequin dressed in red clothing.

According to the Satanic Temple of Iowa, it represented the congregation’s 7 Tenets while expressing religious freedom and equal opportunity to all religions celebrating the holidays.

The display Cassidy allegedly tore down inside the Iowa Statehouse (Photo courtesy of Satanic Temple of Iowa)

“We were informed by authorities that the Baphomet statue in our holiday display was destroyed beyond repair. We are proud to continue our holiday display for the next few days that we have been allotted,” the group posted on social media.

Shortly after his arrest, Cassidy began raising money from social media users who supported his actions at the Iowa State Capitol to cover $20,000 in legal defense funds. At this time, Cassidy has received over $130,000, with the number continuing to climb.

Damages made to the display are estimated to have cost $750 and $1,500 to repair, with further investigation into the incident increasing Cassidy’s charge to third-degree criminal mischief. On Jan. 31, he was also charged with committing a hate crime.

In 2022, Cassidy — a former Naval Reserve pilot with no prior political experience — ran an unsuccessful campaign against incumbent Rep. Michael Guest losing during the Republican primary runoff for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District. Cassidy then attempted to run for District 45 representative in Mississippi before losing to Democrat Keith Jackson during the 2023 general election.

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