Prosecutors in Tennessee are reviewing the cases of a detective who preached to his congregation that gays should be arrested and executed.
Grayson Fritts, a detective with the Knox County Sheriff’s Department, delivered an anti-gay sermon to his congregation last weekend that has garnered national attention. As Knox News reported, the detective (who is also a preacher) told his congregation that police at all levels of government should arrest, try, convict, and “speedily” execute people from the LGBT community for any reason — even for simply having a photo on their cell phone from a Pride event. Video of the sermon was later posted to the internet.
The sermon drew nationwide backlash and calls for authorities to take action, and authorities in Tennessee have now launched an investigation into Fritts. Charme Allen, prosecuting attorney with the 6th Judicial District in Tennessee, said that she found his comments “personally offensive and reprehensible.”
Allen said she is now reviewing cases that Fritts had overseen to see if his apparent hatred of homosexuals played a role in arrests or prosecutions.
“My constitutional obligation is to protect the integrity of the justice system,” Allen said in a statement to NBC News.
“When any potential witness in a criminal proceeding expresses an opinion of hatred and/or bias towards a class of citizens, I am ethically bound to explore that witness’ credibility. Accordingly, I am reviewing all pending cases involving Mr. Fritts to scrutinize them for any potential bias.”
Fritts was already gone from the department by the time the controversy erupted, having accepted a buyout from the county. He was gone on sick leave until mid-July, when his employment with the department comes to an end.
Religious expert says Detective Grayson Fritts’ sermon on the first Sunday of Pride Month goes beyond usual messaging of LGBTQ opponents.https://t.co/SZAdP6zGTj
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) June 14, 2019
His sermon coincided with the start of Pride Month, a national celebration of the LGBT community. This June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising in New York, a seminal moment in LGBT rights history. There are Pride events planned for all across the country, including one in Knoxville later this month.
Some activists in Tennessee have reported attacks against the LGBT community and churches that support it, including a 2008 shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. As Knox News noted, the gunman said he attacked the church because of its support for the LGBT community.
It was not clear if prosecutors in Tennessee plan to take any action against Grayson Fritts, or if any of his cases could be overturned due to anti-gay bias.