Deborah Gary tells her side of the story and explains why she confronted “Saint” Ross.
Gary is a fine arts student who heard Rev. Ross Jackson’s preaching as she was walking to class on Wednesday, Sept. 21.
“His sign said, ‘You deserve hell’ with a finger pointing out of it. So I just faced [the finger] back at him saying, ‘Who’s the finger pointing to now?’” Gary said.
“I’m Christian, and I thought, ‘Oh, hey, this guy is talking about God, maybe he’ll say some interesting stuff,’” she said.
As she went to listen, Gary discovered that Jackson’s words did not align with her own beliefs as a Christian.
“I heard the stuff that he was really saying, and it was way off, which was when I decided to jump in,” said Gary.
“[Jackson] wasn’t at all speaking about the love of God, which is what we’re supposed to be talking about,” she continued. “He was calling homosexuals faggots; he told me that I’m not Christian because my skirt was too short, and it ended, like, an inch above my knee. He said that all college football players are whoremongers, and basically tying everything into sex and perversion, when there was really no connection at all.”
Gary said that Jackson’s words made her angry.
“[I was angry] because he kept calling himself a saint, and he is not,” she said. According to Gary, Jackson said he was no longer a sinner because he repented of his sins and has not sinned since doing so.
“Yeah right. What, did you repent yesterday? Everyone is a sinner. Whether you go to God and repent or not, you’re still a sinner; that fact remains,” Gary said.
Gary joined the group that was confronting Jackson. She also said that she was trying to make a point with her actions.
“Because the finger on the sign was pointing out to everybody else, and I thought that pointing it back at him might give him a better idea about how it feels saying that we’re all horrible people and sinners and perverts,” Gary said.
“He thinks that he’s so much better than us, and I just wanted him to know what it felt like to be on the other side of the finger on the sign,” he continued.
She continued, “I was acting in the heat of the moment. I never would have hurt anybody; I just want to say that right now. I never would have hurt him or anyone else standing there. I was just trying to make a point, and I was angry. That’s all.”
Gary also questioned why she was charged with breach of peace when Jackson’s words were not peaceful. “The arrest report also said that I was disturbing the peace. I just want to say that I didn’t feel like I was disturbing any peace because what he was doing was not peaceful. It was awful.”
According to Gary, after she went to court following the incident, she found out that the charges would be dropped in six months.
“[Jackson is] unfairly protected by his freedom of speech and religion, which obviously everyone has a right to exercise, but he wasn’t exercising it, he was abusing it,” Gary said. “He might not see it that way, but I do, and so does everyone else I’ve talked to since this happened.”
Gary also said that the arrest report was incorrect in what it said about the details of the event.
“It says that I grabbed his sign and a gallon jug of water, which didn’t happen. I did reach for his sign once, but I didn’t even know there was a jug of water; he took it away before I could grab it,” Gary said.
She continued, “Later on, 10 or 15 minutes, I did actually grab his sign. I didn’t try to steal it, though. In the arrest report, it says I tried to run out of the pavilion with it, but I didn’t.”
When Fred Aliberti, director of Public Safety, was asked to comment on the possibility of the report being incorrect, he said, “Regarding the jug of water and the sign, [Gary] may not have run out of the pavilion completely with it, but she did handle those objects in an attempt to take them away from Mr. Jackson.”