Has Cameron Mayfield been sacrificed on the altar of the gay marriage issue?
Yesterday, the 24 year old aviation student was convicted of a felony hate crime in the burning of a neighbor’s rainbow flag. Was the politically charged atmosphere in Nebraska a catalyst in the decision to charge a young man with no previous criminal history with a felony hate crime in the burning of a rainbow windsock.
News reports state that Mayfield and the victims of his crime, “Ariann Anderson and Jess Meadows-Anderson,” a lesbian couple who live on the same street, had never spoken to each other before, although Mayfield’s father told WOWT News, in a telephone interview, that he thought his son was “upset about a prior run in with Andersen.” He disclosed details in an exclusive interview with this writer that his son had complained to him a few weeks prior to the incident that he had witnessed Anderson, their neighbor and one of the victims, take some apple wood, that he used for smoking barbecue, out of his truck while walking her dog.
In a recorded phone call from the jail, Mayfield told his father, “They burned something of mine, so I burned something of theirs.”
That recording, according to the family, was never played in court.
Sources close to the family are shocked that Mayfield would be charged with a hate crime against lesbians saying, “His uncle is gay.” That the couple’s sexual orientation played a part in the crime is unbelievable to those who know Mayfield well.
Other sources inside the family claim that in addition to a gay uncle, Mayfield has a transgender uncle, a great aunt who is a lesbian, and enjoyed being a welcome guest in the home of their Grandmother. He was not raised with bigotry. Mayfield has friends who are gay. “No one who knows Cameron Mayfield would ever accuse him of hating gays or lesbians. He should not have done what he did, but there is no way he did it because they were gay.”
And that is the central question here. Did Cameron Mayfield do what he did because his neighbors were gay?
Did he commit a crime? He admits that he did. Was being drunk an excuse? Of course not. Does the fact the the crime victims happened to be gay automatically make it a hate crime? The implications of that question should give pause to every thinking person. Mayfield’s attorney, James Martin Davis, brought up the issue of political motivations in charging defendants with crimes. He said, “Just because the victims … are gay doesn’t make it a hate crime.”
“Just because the victims … are gay doesn’t make it a hate crime.”
After Mayfield’s initial hearing, Davis named the Nebraska gay marriage debate as the matrix in which the felony hate crime charge was spawned, “There’s a political wind blowing here in Omaha… I want to make sure that my client doesn’t get caught up in the wind.”
Many believe that his client did indeed get caught up in the political windstorm sweeping through the state of Nebraska, and the entire country, over gay marriage, and that justice was not served in that courtroom on Wednesday, April 27, 2016 for one Cameron Adam Mayfield, 24 years of age.
On close inspection, there are good reasons this case that should raise concerns for anyone who believes that the American court system should be a place of justice rather than a place to legislate political agendas.
The young man whose life has just been ruined by this outrageous conviction has no prior criminal history, has no history of bigotry–in fact, just the opposite–or habitual alcohol or drug use. He has gay friends, a gay uncle, a transgender uncle, and a gay aunt. Because of his older brother and sister who are mentally handicapped with Down’s Syndrome, he has learned tolerance for those who are different. In an interview with the family, it was disclosed that throughout his life, he has often defended his brother and sister against the cruel taunts of others.
It was falsely alleged, in court, that his parents have publicly supported traditional marriage through a yard sign. Even if that were true what relevance is that to the case? The Washington Times reported that most Americans continue to support traditional marriage as well, but that does not constitute hatred of gays or lesbians.
WOWT News reported that, “Chad Simmons, a burglary detective with the Omaha Police Department, was the one and only prosecution witness during the hearing. Simmons testified that Mayfield called his father approximately three hours after the alleged crime while he was being detained. His father asked him if he burned the flag. Cameron told him that he had. His father then instructed Cameron to tell the police there was no intent of hate. Earlier in the evening, Mr. Mayfield told a sergeant investigating the crime at his house that he had several conversations with his son about the flag and what it meant. He also told detectives that he raised his son to be “tolerant.” He was brought up this way in part because Cameron has two mentally challenged siblings. Simmons also testified that the Mayfield family had a sign in their front yard approximately six months prior to the crime that read “Protect Traditional Marriage.”
In an interview with the family it was disclosed that the phone conversation alluded to was recorded from the jail and was played in court. In that conversation, Mayfield’s father never instructed him not to say there was no intent of hate. His father asked him if he hated anyone. And Mayfield said, “No.” The yard sign featured in the detective’s testimony did not belong to Mayfield family at all but was located in a neighbor’s yard, given to the neighbor by the Catholic church.
A man is convicted on the testimony of one witness who saw nothing and gave false information about a recorded phone conversation and a yard sign that belonged to someone else
Mayfield’s father also disclosed in the interview that he and his wife were not aware that the Anderson’s were a lesbian couple until the incident of their son’s arson occurred.
Did Mayfield lie about not knowing the couple was gay? Did he lie about not knowing the meaning of the rainbow windsock? Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. But if he was lying, does even that prove his actions were motivated by hate? The burden of proving motivation was on the prosecution. Did they prove it? Why wasn’t Mayfield’s statement from the second recorded phone call from the jail used in court?
“They burned something of mine. So I burned something of theirs”
How is it that a foolish 23 year old commits a misdemeanor crime, admits to it, and then finds himself convicted of a felony hate crime just because it is falsely alleged that his parents had a “Protect Traditional Marriage” sign in their front yard six months prior to the crime? Add to that, a false statement that his father was allegedly coaching his son on what to say. How does any of that, even if it were true, prove to a prosecutor and judge that hatred, rather than mere anger over stolen apple wood was involved?
Mayfield was drunk and behaved in a criminal manner, but it has never been proven to the satisfaction of many Americans watching the case, that his actions were motivated by hatred. In fact, Mayfield has apologized for what he did and offered to replace the $15 windsock. He has clearly stated on more than one occasion that he does not hate anyone.
More cause for concern: It is understandable that the crime itself would have been frightening to the victims while it was taking place. There are numerous television interviews which show the victims, Ariann Anderson and Jess Meadows-Anderson, claiming fear for their lives and safety—even going so far as to obtain a restraining order against Mayfield. If that was the case, why did they admit at the outset–on March 4, 2015–in a KETV News Watch video interview, that they did not feel they were in any physical danger from their neighbor. They told News Watch 7 that their purpose for pushing for a hate crime conviction was ideological.
Obviously, then, the request for an order of protection was just for show and political advantage. There is little doubt, based on their interview with KETV News Watch 7, that the motivation for obtaining the restraining order and for pushing to ruin a young man’s life by having him charged with a felony hate crime rather than the misdemeanor he admitted to, was ideologically and politically motivated.
WOWT 6 News hinted at the political motivation for the charge when it reported that, “As for Anderson and Meadows-Anderson the two say they’re still focused on bigger news. The couple is hoping that a federal judge in Omaha makes a ruling that will allow same-sex marriages in Nebraska. The two are currently married in Iowa, but that union isn’t recognized in their home state. If the judge makes a decision in the coming days the two say they have plans to get married in a court house. The two had a large wedding for friends and family in Iowa in 2011.”
In addition to the questionable way the case has been handled, with a prosecutor and press hell bent on a hate crime charge and conviction, the media optics of the case have deliberately cast Mayfield in the most unfavorable manner possible.
Upon Mayfield’s arrest, most press images of him showed the drunken mugshot. Which looked pretty bad. The windsock, that he admitted he burned and offered to replace, was immediately replaced, by the victims, with a full sized, 3′ x 5′, gay pride flag. This has been the only image presented to the public view. Since it is contested that this is not what was burned, why hasn’t evidence been presented to verify whether it was a wind sock or a flag?
Mayfield and his attorney have held from the beginning that it was a $15 rainbow windsock attached to a three foot pole. A full size 3′ x 5′ flag could not fly from a mere three foot flag pole. Mayfield claimed that he believed the windsock he was stealing and burning to be a springtime decoration. Mayfield’s father has produced a police evidence photo of the charred remains of the windsock/flag lying next to the small unburned pole it was flying from.
Mayfield did not make a favorable impression on the press early on and had little to say later. Those who know the defendant say this does not surprise them. “He is normally quiet and we expect that he would be uncomfortable and not very articulate in front of judges and news cameras—especially since his entire future is at stake.” His father had this to say about his reticent son, “Cameron doesn’t express himself well.”
Has Cameron Mayfield’s future just been stolen from him because of a political agenda? Was Meadows-Anderson admitting to this when she said, referring the legal nightmare the young musician/aviation student had plunged himself into, “You almost feel bad, for a minute…”