Caught on surveillance cameras vandalizing the Islamic Center of Davis, California, by breaking windows, damaging property and placing bacon on the door handles, Lauren Kirk-Coehlo was sentenced on Friday to five years probation and is banned from using social media.
“The social media postings that she had, and the chats we were able to recover, showed that she harbored extreme feeling where she wanted to hurt people,” said Ryan Couzens of the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office.
Diagnosed with bipolar disorder, Kirk-Coehlo, 30, vandalized the Islamic Center of Davis back in January.
The Yolo County District Attorney’s Office wanted to send Kirk-Coehlo to jail, but the judge disagreed. “We can’t live in a free society if people’s political views are expressed through violence,” argued Couzens.
Kirk-Coehlo was charged with felony vandalism with a hate crime enhancement. In addition to probation and the social media ban, she also has to serve community service, pay $7,000 in restitution, and attend weekly psychiatric counseling sessions.
In the past six months, the Islamic Center of Davis and other local mosques have reported several incidences of attack and/or vandalism.
“A felony conviction is something that will follow her for the rest of her life, and five years probation is no joke either,” commented Sacramento civil rights attorney Saad Sweilem, noting that “Islamophobic rhetoric” was used during the trail to justify what Kirk-Coehle did.
“People might view attacks on the Muslim community as something that won’t be taken too seriously or with consequences, and that maybe people will get off lightly,” said Sweilem, adding, “It further antagonizes the Muslim community, and they were already the victim in this case.”
Since the attack, the Islamic Center has received support from the community in the form of pictures drawn by local elementary school students and letters of encouragement from residents and community leaders.
“It’s the holy month of Ramadan for us Muslims. It’s about forgiving and being a better person. We don’t want to see this young woman punished for the rest of her life. Hopefully, she will learn from this,” opined one college student.
As part of Kirk-Coehlo’s probation, she will have to come into the mosque to learn more about the community she attacked.
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