Man who dumped manure on pride parade route convicted

A Greenbrier, Ark., farmer who pleaded innocent after admitting that he dumped three tons of manure on the route of a gay pride parade to protest the event has been found guilty of misdemeanor harassment. Wesley Bono, 35, was ordered Thursday to pay $639.09 in restitution and $90 to the person from whom he had borrowed the manure spreader for the impound fee. The judge also imposed a $500 fine and court costs. Bono also was sentenced to 30 days in jail, but the judge suspended the
sentence on the condition that Bono makes his payments on time.

Afterward, Bono remained unrepentant. "In the long run, has the city gained or lost from this?" he said. "People are moving out of the big cities because of gays, because of crime in general. Conway, Ark., is not the place for gays." Conway district judge Jack Roberts said Bono's action may have been a protest but it was "self-gratifying." He said free speech rights have to be expressed properly and are not absolute. He said Bono's deeds qualified as "acts that alarm or seriously annoy another person and that serve no legitimate purpose."

Bono testified that he spread the manure in front of the home of the gay couple who organized the June 27 parade to protest the city's permitting the event on a Sunday morning. He said he wasn't trying to harass the organizers. "I didn't want a bunch of gay guys lined up in front of all the people at
church," Bono testified. "I didn't do this as a hate crime. If I was going to do it as a hate crime, I'd get it done." His rambling testimony also included allusions to child rape and cross-dressing.

For the prosecution, parade organizers John Schenck and Robert Loyd testified, as did the chiefs of the Conway police and fire departments and the director of public works. Schenck said he received threats after the parade and "I got really scared." Loyd characterized his feeling on waking up to the mess as "somewhere between anger and hate." "It was pretty disgusting," he said. After the trial, Loyd expressed dissatisfaction with the sentence, saying that he and Schenck had expected at least some community service to discourage other "wrong-minded, like-minded" people.

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