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Prop 8 Threat: Fresno Police close to Arrest

Friday, October 31, 2008

Police say they are close to making an arrest after someone e-mailed threats against Mayor Alan Autry and the pastor of a prominent Fresno church. The threat mentioned their support of proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that would ban same sex marriage.

Mayor Autry wants supporters of Prop 8 not to blame the gay and lesbian community. The death threat came after last weekend's rally at city hall supporting the ban on gay marriage, but those opposing the proposition are also experiencing problems.

Mayor Alan Autry's mornings are starting different these days. After receiving a death threat, a body guard now escorts Autry to his daily radio show. Cornerstone Church Pastor Jim Franklin was also included in the threat. Police say the message was emailed earlier in the week to city hall. Mayor Autry said no one can change his support on Proposition 8 which if approved would ban gay marriage. But he fears the death threat will create backlash against gays and lesbians. Autry said, "Most of the opponents of Prop 8 and the vast, vast majority of the gay community would condemn this type of thing."

Fresno's Police Chief Jerry Dyer declined to reveal what was in the email. Dyer said, "It was specific information not necessarily how it was going to occur or when it was going to occur. It did state as to why that threat was made and it was stemming from prop 8."

Supporters of gay marriage are also being harassed. Over night someone tore up signs at the Clovis Unitarian Universalist Church. Reverend Bryan Jessup said every night they endure vandalism because they oppose Prop 8. The reverend hopes the violence stops. Jessup said, "On our side, we do not condone violence of any kind, against people who support prop 8."

Chief Dyer said they are close to arresting the person they believe sent the threatening email. He would not reveal any details about the suspect.



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