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Far-right personality charged with damaging Hanukkah display

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PHOENIX (AP) — Far-right social media personality Tim Gionet, who calls himself “Baked Alaska,” has been charged with misdemeanors over allegedly damaging a Hanukkah display in December 2020 outside the Arizona Capitol.

Prosecutors declined to provide specifics on the charges, but one of the people who helped organize the display in Wesley Bolin Plaza said a video shows Gionet tearing a sign off from the display that honors the Jewish Festival of Lights.

Rabbi Levi Levertov said the sign was of little material value, but that damaging a religious display was disturbing. “It’s an attack on an entire community,” Levertov said. “That’s the way I look at it.”

Gionet’s attorney, Zachary Thornley, didn’t immediately return a call Monday seeking comment on behalf of his client.

Gionet hasn’t yet entered a plea to the criminal damage and attempted criminal damage charges filed against him earlier this month in Arizona.

In unrelated cases, Gionet faces charges over allegedly storming the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot and is awaiting sentencing for misdemeanor convictions arising from an encounter in which authorities say he shot pepper spray at an employee at a bar in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Authorities say Gionet livestreamed for about 27 minutes from inside the U.S. Capitol, encouraged other rioters not to leave, Gionet entered offices there, profanely called a police officer an “oath breaker” and identified himself as a member of the media when told by police to move.

Prosecutors dispute that Gionet is a journalist. His lawyer said the former BuzzFeed employee only went to Washington to film what happened.

The federal court record doesn’t say whether Gionet has entered a plea on the charges related to the Capitol riot, though his attorney said in a court filing that his client would be found not guilty if the case goes to trial.

In the Scottsdale case, Gionet was convicted of assault, disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing.

Police say Gionet made customers uncomfortable when he and friends were inside the bar livestreaming video, refused to leave when asked to do so and got into an argument with an employee who pushed him out of the door, leading Gionet to shoot pepper spray twice, The Arizona Republic has reported.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 13.

In a 2017 interview with “Business Insider,” Gionet said he was given the nickname “Baked Alaska” because he grew up in Alaska and that he smoked marijuana at the time.

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