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July 1, 2014

City council member receives death threats over documentary

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Williams is extremely grateful his family has not been a target. He is also grateful that the filmmakers kept his wife — who was pregnant at the time — out of the film and allowed her some privacy.

The primary focus of the film was 19-year-old Zack Harrington’s pain and alienation, and the fallout to his family after his suicide.

One week before his death, Zack had attended a local city council meeting in support of a proposal for LGBT History Month in Norman, but public comments led to controversial statements made by some members of the public.

Williams spoke against the LGBT proclamation.

That divisive city council meeting and later campaigns of Ward 8 council candidates Williams and Jackie Farley also came into play in the film.

Farley is an openly gay woman. Late in the campaign, a hateful letter about her was mailed to prospective voters. Williams denies having any connection to or knowledge of the letter and condemned its contents.

While the film shows several angles on the gay issue, Williams felt it was never made clear that he was not responsible for the hateful letter during the campaign. He thinks that may be fueling the threats.

“When it (the film) was proposed to me, it was, ‘We’re going to make a documentary about Norman and how that meeting was perceived as a divide in that community and we’re going to show both sides,” he said.

At that time, he was running for the Ward 8 city council seat. He decided to be open and show who he is, believing it was important to represent all viewpoints. Now, he’s having second thoughts about continuing to participate in the dialogue surrounding gay issues.

“I’ll have to weigh whether it’s worth it for me and my family,” he said.

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