83-year-old Alabama man arrested for sending threatening note over Pride flag

An elderly Alabama man was arrested for leaving a threatening note at a hair salon demanding they take down a Pride flag “before it is too late.”

James Willoughby Wood, 83, was arrested on Wednesday (August 7) on a misdemeanour harassing communications charge for leaving the note on the back door of Salon U in Homewood.

All in printed capital letters, the anonymous note read: “This is not San Francisco or downtown Birmingham. This is Homewood which is a religious and family city.

“We suggest that you remove that flag before it is too late. We are concerned citizens. Good bye.”

Salon U

A picture of the note posted to Salon U’s Facebook page (Salon U/Facebook)

The note was left while the salon’s staff attended World Pride in New York. On their return, an employee took it to the Homewood Police Department as a precaution due to its threatening nature.

Salon owner Issam Bajalia told AL.com: “I am not an alarmist by nature. In fact I don’t feel threatened at all, however when you have situations like the Pulse Nightclub shooting, you can’t be too careful in today’s day and time. You don’t know.”

Wood was caught when police reviewed CCTV footage from other businesses. He turned himself in and was identified from a photo lineup.

Bajalia said: “We’re just very disappointed because our only crime (according to) this person is we have a rainbow flag in front of our building.

“My thing is what is so offensive about a rainbow or a flag and how does this disrupt your religious journey?”

The anonymous note was left at Salon U while staff attended Pride (Salon U/Facebook)

The bond for Wood was set at $300.

Posting on Facebook, the salon thanked its customers for their support: “Thank you Birmingham and thank you especially Homewood… for standing with us, for providing love, support, and unity and for sending the world a message about who we are in Birmingham.

“We will not be stopped or be put down by hateful ideologies and hurtful words. What the person who wrote this note needs most is what we have most – LOVE.

“Salon U is a place of love, tolerance, inclusivity, and mutual respect. We extend this to everyone, including the person who wrote the note.”