San Angelo is making international news. Unfortunately, it's not for a positive reason. Back in April, a video which appears to show a local business owner harassing an LGBT+ couple in a parking lot near the apartment complex where both live,  went viral.

Because of the objectionable language in the video, we have decided not to post it here. Basically, the video appears to show a mostly verbal altercation between two men and the alleged harasser.

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TikTok user "That Danesh Guy" picked up the story and published a series of videos to shame the alleged harasser, Evan Noelle Berryhill, of San Angelo. The story was also picked up by international news agencies, the and the New York Daily News.

Since then, Berryhill has received countless threats and her life has been turned upside down. Even though it has been reported that she apologized the day after the incident, she continues to suffer.  She has removed all social media profiles and her business Texas Angels Boutique at 113 East Concho Avenue has received hundreds of one star reviews and horrible comments.

Photo: Tom Green County Sheriff's Office
Photo: Tom Green County Sheriff's Office

She has told news outlets that she  actually fears for her life.

While the attention had started to wane as the public moved on to other controversies, it was all stirred up again when Berryhill was arrested on August 8th and booked into the Tom Green County Detention Center charged with assault because of bias or prejudice, a hate crime in Texas.

The arrest has thrust this story into the limelight nationwide and has once again caused San Angelo to be associated with bigotry in the eyes of people all across the country.

While it is never good when people are singled out for hateful comments, the ability of social media to publicize and in some cases blow incidents way out of proportion can do real harm. Anyone who uses hateful language should pay a price for their actions. If anything, it should stand as a deterrent to others who might be inclined to do the same

At the same time, two wrongs don't make a right.  Calling attention to someone's reproachful behavior should not cause undo harm to an individual or a community. Whatever happens now is up to all of us.  Are we going to continue to focus on retribution, or are we going to come together as a community, roll up our sleeves, and work together to build a city where everyone feels welcome?

Photo by Clemens van Lay on Unsplash
Photo by Clemens van Lay on Unsplash

San Angelo is not a hateful community. This incident reminds us all that we have a lot of work to do. One person made a mistake. This mistake should inspire us all to be more understanding and caring of others, including "That Danesh Guy" and countless others like him on TikTok.


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