Tennessee Gay Man’s House Vandalized Again

Jim Burroway

May 27th, 2008

Tennessee Anti-Gay Vandalism

Tennessee Anti-Gay Vandalism
It’s like a bad recurring nightmare for Neal Anthony. Last Friday, his Warren County, Tennessee, home was badly damaged in an act of anti-gay vandalism yet again — for the ninth time:

“I’ve spent a whole lot of money on this house,” said Anthony, Warren County homeowner and vandalism victim.

He spent $80,000 to fix up the home and $10,000 more dollars on surveillance cameras to make him feel secure. The cameras are a modern-day amenity that stand out against his 150-year-old structure.

“I’m scared to leave my windows open. I’m scared to leave my door open. I’m afraid to go out in the yard by myself,” said Anthony.

The suspected vandals also spray painted “Dorothy’s in Hell” referring to Neal’s mother, who passed away in December.

While virtually every square inch of his property is within range of security cameras, this latest act of vandalism went undetected. Vandals cut the lines to the cameras, security lights, landscape lights and even severed power to the main house and his phone line. Anthony fears the attacks may escalate from vandalism to personal assault.

So far, Warren County sheriffs have only made one set of arrests in association with these nine crimes. Last year, three teens confessed to vandalizing his home with paint balls. They were given probation.

The ACLU of Tennessee has called upon the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) and the FBI to investigate. The FBI declined, according to ACLU’s Christine Sun:

“The FBI has informed me that it would otherwise investigate the crimes but for the unfortunate fact that sexual orientation is not a protected characteristic under the federal hate crimes statute. The TBI has informed me that it will consider providing additional resources to investigate the hate crimes against Mr. Anthony but only if requested to do so by the Warren County District Attorney’s office.”

Sun also sent a letter to the Warren County sheriff’s office asking them to request additional help from the TBI and to report the crimes as a hate crime to the FBI. As we’ve noted earlier, many jurisdictions have refused to report far worse hate crimes to the FBI.

So far, the sheriff’s office appears unresponsive. They have not responded to the ACLU’s request, nor have they responded to an offer from Neal Anthony to post a reward for information leading to the arrests. The also refused to return phone calls to a local television station for comment.


May 27th, 2008

Oy, this is very disturbing. I’ve heard a lot of people opposed to hate-crimes legislation argue that “two people should be charged exactly the same if they commit the same crime; their motivation shouldn’t be brought into it; a crime is a crime.”

I find this logic ridiculous, first of all, because we already consider the motive in many cases. Murder, for example, has many different charges and punishments (first degree, second degree, manslaughter, etc.) specifically taking motive and intent into consideration.

But another issue with hate crimes is dealing with the motivation to show hate and cause fear that amplifies a lesser crime into something much bigger. Imagine if vandals had written “Go Predators!” across this man’s house nine times. He’d be spending a lot of money on cleanup and he’d be grousing about ‘those damn kids,’ but he wouldn’t be living in fear of his life, too afraid to open a window or leave the yard. That’s what hate crime legislation is about.


May 27th, 2008

The biggest argument for hate-crime legislation (in my opinion) is this one quote from ACLU above:

The FBI has informed me that it would otherwise investigate the crimes but for the unfortunate fact that sexual orientation is not a protected characteristic under the federal hate crimes statute.

There are many such crimes, both non-violent and violent, that were/are under-investigated, and the perpetrators end up getting away with it. If it was a hate-crime because of religion or race, the FBI wouldn’t have their hands tied.


May 27th, 2008

It’s time to sue the county, so as this gets taken seriously before someone gets killed. And, if either Neal or his parter is hurt or dies as a result of this, their respective families should OWN Warren County, Tennessee.

L. Junius Brutus

May 27th, 2008

Well, I think this shows us why the radical right keeps opposing hate crimes legislation. They want us to live in fear. It takes a mental toll, you know. And when that happens, they can point to that person and say: look, he’s obviously crazy because he’s gay. Why give that up just to satisfy a few widely ignored Biblical demands to love your neighbor?


October 17th, 2008

Warren County Eh? I’m not surprised in the least. I live in Coffee County. In this area of Tennessee it is 100% “Good Old Boy” law enforcement. My simplest advice to this poor man is move before it gets worse. I would put that house up for sale and get the hell out of there! Those are just warning shots for the final atom bomb because you will get no law enforcement assistance.

I’m sure the Warren County police department is just laughing at this and probably make fun of the gentleman behind his back.

It is a very uneducated, backwoods and racist area and if a gay man comes up missing or dead? Well…that’s just one less fag to have to worry about.

I’m sorry. I know that sounds cruel and that I may seem heartless but those of us that live in the mountainous regions of this area know good and well that consequences can arrise if we live too freely or make our relationships known to the public. Live behind those closed blinds kiddies!

You can’t sue the county. Nobody will listen to you and the “good old boys” will make sure you stop the suit. The KKK is still around. You just don’t mess with these people. That’s why most gay men leave the area for larger cities. Fortunately, the area I live in is not bad and I’ve never had any altercations.

I have met STRICT resistence in health care though. Tennessee does NOT recognize domestic partners and if you are not your partner’s power of attorney, you WILL be told you have no rights and no reason to be there. I would highly recommend that any same sex partners immediately obtain a durable power of attorney for medical care for both parterns to safe guard yourself.

You may not think you really need that but trust me. Should the emergency arrise and your partner is non-responsive and can’t make decisions? Should you need to ask questions? You will get the door slammed in your face and some off color remarks made. And this is not in the past, this was two days ago which was a real chin dropper to me as I thought this town was above that.

There is still phobia. Immediately upon finding out my partner was gay, an HIV test was ordered WITHOUT his consent. So there is still this hatred bubbling under the smiley surface in Tennessee. So like my Mama says, “Don’t get TOO comfortable with yourselves!”

If these guys are cutting power lines and phone lines – WATCH OUT! It may be a simple prank for now but it can escalate without warning. It’s legal to carry a gun in Tennessee. He needs to get one!

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