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Manure Tossed on Ark. Gay Parade Route

June 28, 2004

CONWAY, Ark. (AP) _ Organizers of a gay pride parade awoke to find the parade route covered in cow manure, but it was cleaned up in time for the event.

Police said the dump-truck load was spread at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday. Authorities are investigating, they said, and criminal mischief and littering charges could be filed.

City workers scooped and rinsed the manure from the route.

The parade attracted about 275 marchers in the town of 26,000 north of Little Rock. It also attracted protesters, many from local churches. Police said there were no injuries or arrests.

``We want to let people know that gay people don’t just live in cities,″ parade organizer John Schenck said. ``They live in little towns like Conway and Greenbrier.″ The street in front of the home of Schenck and his partner, Robert Loyd, also was vandalized with the manure.

Protesters along the route heckled the marchers and held signs such as ``Sodomy is a Sin that God forgives If We Repent.″ Other protesters turned their backs to the marchers and prayed.

``What they’re doing is an abomination to God,″ said John Lauritzon, 31, of Conway.

Last week, about 200 people attended a Conway City Council meeting to support a proposal that called the parade ``a potentially divisive and disruptive activity″ that the city would ``neither encourage nor condone.″ But no one on the council seconded the motion.

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