Arrested for being gay in Columbia TN

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On March 24th I was arrested for what essentially was a trumped up charge after myself and two gay friends were asked to leave a Columbia Tennessee establishment.

We were standing quietly in a corner of the bar talking amongst ourselves bothering no one, after we had been ther a short time a few deputy’s from the Maury county Sherriff’s dept showed up and not long after one of them demanded that we leave.

When asked why we needed to leave his response was that we were intoxicated, We were not, especially myself, One of my friend had about 2/3rds of a drink the other had about 1/2 and I had not yet had one, Meanwhile going right past this officer is a girl that is so drunk she can’t even walk being carried by her friends, people stumbling, screaming yelling, and very obviously drunk.

I realized instantly what was going on, we were being singled out because we were gay, The officer had stood next to us long enough to listen to our conversation and from that easily could ascertain that we were a group of gay men, not to mention we were rather well dressed compared to the general customer base and kind of stuck out visually as well, I called this officer on his homophobia, and asked if he had ever heard of the ACLU, I was a little upset about being singled out, I then walked to the car and waited for the others, One of my Friends, Matthew was rounding up his sister who had suggested going there in the first place and if any of us were intoxicated is was probably her but not likely.

Before they could get to the car I was in handcuff’s and was being arrested for public intox, I was angry and in a state of shock, I couldn’t beleive they would take this homophobia to this level, I was taken without a sobriety test to the Maury County jail where once again no alcohol level test was conducted, I was simply placed in a cell without telephone access or toilet facilities and held for four hours until my friends were allowed to bail me out, I was told at the jail that everything was done and that there was no need to go to court.

I was not issued a citation or summons to appear in court, One of the jailers made the comment "I can tell why you are here" Not sure if this was in rewference to the fact that yes I am on the effeminate side or to falsely back up the arresting officers claims of public intoxication.

To me this is outrageous, and just as clear and unjust a hate based case of anti-gay discrimination as any other, Being from Northern Colorado originally and having been aquainted with numerous freinds of Matthew Shepard I was literally fearful in that jail, I am now having nightmares and am afraid to be in groups of people, this has left a scar on me that you can’t see but I can certainly feel.

Brian Williams
San Francisco, CA