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Court dates set for lesbians arrested for kissing at Rolling Oaks Mall
QSanAntonio.com, August 1, 2009

Court dates have been set for a lesbian couple who was arrested after they had been ejected by security guards for kissing at Rolling Oaks Mall. The incident, which occurred in December 2008, was first reported by QSanAntonio and became a national story within weeks.

Articles about the incident have appeared in the New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express News among others. QSanAntonio.com originally reported the story on January 9.

The couple Shanenn Yvonne Johnson and Jessica Louise Garcia, both 22-years-old, were arrested for trespassing and other charges on December 26 at Rolling Oaks Mall after Bexar County Deputy Sheriff Fernando Luna, who was on duty at the mall, ejected them because they had been kissing.

The women were told they had to leave by the nearest exit. The deputy and Jason Mata, a mall security guard, escorted them out of the building. Garcia and Johnson say they decided to go back into the mall to use the exit nearest to their car because it made no sense to walk around the entire mall. "We were about 4 feet away from our exit when we got arrested," Garcia says. A minor scuffle between the women and the officers ensued during the arrest.

Johnson was charged with resisting arrest, criminal trespass, and assault with bodily injury. Her court date has been set for September 16, 2009. Garcia was charged with criminal trespass and interference with the duties of a public servant. Her court date is January 27, 2010.

After the arrests, community activists made contact with Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz. Lynne Armstrong and Roberto Flores, co-chairs of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio and members of the Peace Officer’s Liaison Committee, met with Ortiz in his office on January 26.

Ortiz has since appointed Deputy Ino Badillo as liaison to the GLBT community.

Rolling Oaks incident goes national, community reaches out to those arrested
QSanAntonio.com, February 5, 2009

The story of two women arrested at Rolling Oaks Mall after they were ejected for kissing has become a national story with coverage of the fracas being carried by newspapers and Web sites across the nation. Articles about the incident have appeared in the New York Daily News, the Huffington Post, the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express News among others. QSanAntonio.com originally reported the story on January 9. (See stories below.)

Even before the incident exploded onto the national scene, San Antonio’s GLBT community has rallied around Jessica Garcia and her girlfriend, reaching out to them and making plans to attend their trial to show support. The arrest of the two women has sparked the ire of local gay activists who say it is a sign of San Antonio’s entrenched homophobia.

Community activists have also been busy making contact with Sheriff Amadeo Ortiz. Lynne Armstrong and Roberto Flores, co-chairs of the Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio and members of the Peace Officer’s Liaison Committee, met with Ortiz in his office on January 26.

Flores described the meeting as "cordial, friendly and warm" saying the Sheriff had no problem discussing the case. Flores says that Ortiz described the arresting deputy, Fernando Luna, Jr., as a young man who he felt "was not homophobic."

Ortiz sought out and received an endorsement by the Stonewall Democrats who also contributed funds to his campaign.

Armstrong and Flores also discussed with Ortiz the possibility of having the Peace Officer’s Liaison committee provide GLBT sensitivity training to Sheriff’s deputies. The group currently provides that training to the San Antonio Police Academy. Armstrong has additionally said that such training might be in order for security personnel at Rolling Oaks Mall.

Flores says the Sheriff is open to the idea and has promised to meet again to discuss how it might be implemented.

Rolling Oaks Mall management statement
Posted to QSanAntonio.com on February 5, 2009

We disagree with the version of the events as supplied by the accused...

You will find that the women were not arrested for kissing at the mall. Rather, their aggressive behavior led to their arrest and resulted in the pending criminal charges. The women refused to comply after they had been warned about their disruptive behavior. This behavior, which certainly was not illegal, was clearly inappropriate for a mall setting. They began using profanity with the officers and subsequently were asked to leave the mall. Unfortunately, they decided to re-enter the mall and upon being approached by a Bexar County Sheriff's Deputy and mall security, the women became physically combative and verbally abusive.

It has been erroneously reported that our mall policy prohibits kissing which is not true. Our code of conduct prohibits behavior that is disruptive to our shopping environment. Rest assured that we enforce our code of conduct in a nondiscriminatory manner.

Statement by Sheriff's department
GayAgenda.com, February 5, 2009

Statement by Deputy Ino Badillo, public information officer for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Department as given to GayAgenda.com:

This was not a case of a simple kiss on the cheek. One of the girls was on the other’s lap and they were making out. When they were asked to stop by mall security they became verbally abusive and aggressive. They were then asked to leave in the presence of a Deputy Sheriff, which they did. However, they reentered the mall at a different entrance. When they were spotted again by the Deputy Sheriff, who once again asked them to leave, they again became verbally aggressive and abusive. One of the girls approached the officer and verbally assulted him and a struggle ensued. At that time the officer, who was attempting to handcuff his attacker, was physically attacked by the other girl, at which point they were both arrested on the grounds of interference of justice, assult on a peace officer and criminal trespassing. If they had simply stopped the behavior in the first place, or if they had left when asked to do so, this never would have happened.

We (the Sheriff’s Dept.) don’t enforce house rules. The mall can ask anyone who is engaged in inappropriate behavior to leave, and if they don’t, then they are guilty of trespassing. This was not a simple kiss on the cheek, they were on top of each other making out. Any couple, gay or straight would have been asked to stop, and if they refuse or become aggressive, would be asked to leave.

Rolling Oaks official says arrest of women was warranted
QSanAntonio.com, January 17, 2009

An official from Rolling Oaks Mall in San Antonio says that the arrest of two women for trespassing on December 26 was warranted because they were violating the mall’s code of conduct. Fernando Luna, Jr., a Bexar County Deputy Sheriff on duty at the mall had asked the women to leave because he says they had been kissing. The women were arrested when they re-entered the mall after being ejected by the deputy.

Danielle Pardue, Area Director of Marketing & Business Development for Rolling Oaks, told QSanAntonio that the arrest had nothing to do with the women being gay. "We would have asked them to leave if they had been a man and a woman," she said.

Pardue explains that the mall’s code of conduct prohibits any activity that makes others uncomfortable or causes unnecessary distraction to shoppers. She says that the deputy and the mall security guards felt the women’s public display of affection had crossed the line.

In an email to QSanAntonio, Pardue explained, "Per our conversation, and stated in our Code of Conduct, posted at all mall entrances, the specific codes that apply in this case would be:

"#2 - Disruptive conduct that is disorderly or which annoys, obstructs, interferes or endangers others is prohibited. Examples of such conduct includes, but is not limited to, shouting, screaming, noisy or boisterous activities, loud music, throwing objects, running, skating, "Heely's", skateboarding, rollerblading, bicycling, or interfering with the free flow of pedestrian or vehicle traffic.

# 5- Engaging in any unlawful activity or behavior is prohibited.

If you fail or refuse to follow this Code of Conduct, you will be asked to leave Rolling Oaks Mall. If you fail or refuse to leave when requested to do so, you will be arrested and prosecuted for Criminal Trespass. You may be banned from Rolling Oaks Mall if you fail or do not comply with this Conduct Policy."


The women, Jessica Garcia and her friend, told QSanAntonio last week that they were not kissing but sitting close together on a bench when they were asked to leave. They say they re-entered the mall because they were taking a shortcut to the side of the mall where their car was parked. (See story below for complete details.)

Pardue told QSanAntonio that the women’s arrest stemmed from their behavior toward the Deputy Sheriff and mall security. She says Garcia and her companion were verbally abusive and uncooperative. Besides trespassing, one of the women also was charged with assault of a peace officer and resisting arrest.

Two women cite anti-gay motive for arrest at Rolling Oaks Mall
QSanAntonio.com, January 9, 2009

Two 22-year-old women were arrested for trespassing and other charges on December 26 at Rolling Oaks Mall after a Bexar County Sheriff’s deputy on duty there ejected them because he claims they had been kissing.

The women say they did not kiss but were sitting close together on a bench when they were asked to leave the mall by Deputy Sheriff Fernando Luna, Jr. (badge #354). "We believe we were targeted because we’re gay," says Jessica Garcia. "The deputy never gave us a good reason for making us leave."

Garcia and her companion (who wishes to remain anonymous) told QSanAntonio, "We told Deputy Luna we had not kissed. Then, 20 seconds after his first warning, he came back and asked us to leave." The women were told they had to leave by the nearest exit. The deputy and Jason Mata, a mall security guard, escorted them out of the building.

"We asked if we could be escorted to the exit nearest our car since it was on the other side of the mall, but the deputy refused," says Garcia. "After they walked us out, Deputy Luna and the security guard went back into the mall. Once outside, we were followed by a security car."

Garcia says she and her friend decided to go back into the mall to use the exit nearest to their car because it made no sense to walk around the entire mall. "We were about 4 feet away from our exit when we got arrested," Garcia says.

"They came up from behind us," says Garcia. "I grabbed my friend but the deputy threw me against a glass jewelry case and then threw me on the floor. The two security officers who were with Deputy Luna threw my friend against a wall." Both women were arrested and charged with trespassing.

Deputy Luna also threatened to charge Garcia with interfering with a police officer’s duty because she protested the arrest of her friend. Garcia’s companion was additionally charged with assault on a public servant (a mall security guard named Sara Sosa who Deputy Luna claims got scratched) and resisting arrest.

QSanAntonio contacted the office at Rolling Oaks Mall on January 8 to ask about their policy regarding the ejection of individuals from their premises. The reporter was told someone from the public relations office would call back. However, as of press time on January 9, no response had been received.

Both Garcia and her companion had to post bond and must appear in court on February 3. At that time they will learn if they have to stand trial.

The women say they are shaken by the experience. Both have pictures of the bruises they received during the arrest. "I got man handled for no good reason," says Garcia. "We sat in the security office in the mall for three hours. We were not allowed to go to the restroom nor given anything to drink. We were treated like criminals."

QSanAntonio.com urges its readers to contact Rolling Oaks Mall to protest the arrest of these two young women. Whatever their perceived transgression, they did not deserve the treatment they received. The phone number for the Rolling Oaks Mall office is (210) 651-5601. The email for Danielle Pardue, the mall’s marketing director, is dpardue@simon.com.