Please note: Neal Moffitt Anthony has asked Out & About Newspaper to post this comment in response to reader comments posted on this story. "It is fine with me that O&AN placed my home location in their story," Anthony said. "I gave them full permission. It is my hope that I would get support from other gays and lesbians who have been through something like this before. I don’t know why people are posting comments like that."
A McMinnville man has been terrorized with death threats and harassment apparently over his sexual orientation. Neal Moffitt Anthony, who lives on Hills Creek Road in McMinnville, Tenn., has been the target of hate crimes.
“All gays go to hell”, “fags deserve 2 die” and “your mama is hell bound” were just some of the messages painted on the stately home on April 5 and 6. The home, which sits at the corner of Highway 56 South and Hills Creek Road, has served as the homestead for the Anthony family for four generations and was built in 1851. It was completely restored last year.
Cleanup on the home is expected to take place over the next few days, as friends of Anthony will come together and try to remove the hate-based language.
“I’ve suffered through being called a queer and living where you can’t be yourself,” Anthony told Out & About Newspaper.
The story has prompted widespread media coverage in Middle Tennessee. The Southern Standard newspaper, WKRN Channel 2 News and WSMV Channel 4 News have all reported on the hate crime.
“I’m 41-years-old," Anthony said. "I just want to be left alone."
Anthony has lived in the Irving College community his entire life in the historic home of his family built in 1851. His great, great grandfather was a county judge, and the home was the location of countless weddings and other official Warren County functions.
“I don’t bother anybody. It’s just not right for people to attack someone because they are a little different,” he said.
Detective James Ramsey, Jr., with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the harassment, which includes an incident where the home was shot with more than 80 paint balls; marbles and rocks shot with a slingshot at the house; the spray-painting of anti-gay messages on the home; broken windows; a gay pride flag being cut in half and a person who used his birdbath as a toilet.
"The sheriff’s department has done an excellent job," Anthony told Out & About Newspaper.
It’s one thing after another, but this is my home, this is where I’m from,” Anthony said.
The Warren County native believes the most recent attacks where the handiwork of teenagers.
If arrested, the individual(s) could face hate crime charges which provides for stiffer penalties for hate crimes.
“The reason for the attack is an obvious hate crime, due to the fact that Mr. Anthony is gay,” said Debra Fults, a close friend of Anthony’s.
Rhonda White, an official with the Tennessee Equality Project (TEP), said the next step for Anthony, if he hasn’t already, would be to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which collects hate crime information.
“It’s very important that we report these things to the FBI so they can see if and when we have problems,” White said. “These types of crimes appear to come in waves, unfortunately, one of the biggest problems is that people don’t report these crimes. So they can be difficult to track.”
White said any individual who is a victim of a hate crime should:
- Protect yourself and immediately put yourself in a safer position.
- Contact local law enforcement and making sure the crime is taken seriously.
- Report the hate crime to the FBI.
- Work with local prosecutors and court officials to make sure they prosecute the crime as a hate crime.
“We (TEP) will be more than happy to work with and help the local prosecutors,” she said.
Anthony said he has not reported the incident to the FBI – and that he was happy with the way the Warren County Sheriff’s Department was handling the investigation.
"They’ve gone into overtime," he said.