In Reading, Pennsylvania, a man was arrested after peacefully protesting a “pride” event. Damon Atkins was arrested while standing on a public sidewalk, holding a sign, and reading a Bible verse.
Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, posted video footage of the arrest. The man filming the incident summed up the disbelief most Americans experience watching a fellow American get arrested for exercising their First Amendment right. The filmer exclaimed, “I cannot believe I’m watching this.
A Christian man was arrested for protesting a "Pride" event on a public street in Reading, PA. Damon Atkins was reciting a Bible verse when he was arrested as the man filming says, "I cannot believe I'm watching this." pic.twitter.com/SmvPlhr900
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) June 6, 2023
The pride rally took place Saturday morning, drawing a small crowd to participate in the cities first pride event. The attendees gathered around Reading City Hall to participate in a march and rally. Mayor Eddie Moran endorsed the affair.
Just after 10 am, Atkins arrived and stood on a public sidewalk across the street from the City Hall. But in under a minute, Atkins was arrested for peacefully sharing his personal beliefs. Atkins told the confronting police officer the sidewalk was public property. The officer retorted, “Well then respect it.”
Atkins responded, “Oh, I’m respecting it.”
The cop went on, “Let them have their day and respect them.”
Atkins said he was being respectful.
As Atkins started to quote a verse, the officer said, “that’s it,” and moved toward him to place handcuffs on Atkins and arrest him.
In less than sixty seconds, Damon Atkins was placed in handcuffs and arrested for quoting a portion of a Bible verse on a publicly funded sidewalk.
Fortunately, the entire incident was filmed by Matthew Wear of Reading, Pennsylvania. Wear spoke to The Lancaster Patriot and said the same police officer had silenced him. He said he had been preaching prior to Atkins’ arrival and was told to stop by the same cop who handcuffed Atkins. Atkins told the Lancaster Patriot, “he was going to quote a portion of 1 Corinthians 14:33 – “God is not the author of confusion” – but did not finish because he stopped when he was handcuffed by McClure.”
Wear said he began filming the event across from city hall after trying to preach for about 12 minutes. The officer who approached both Wear and Atkins has been identified as Sergeant Bradley T. McClure.
According to his affidavit, Sergeant McClure said, “[Atkins] was carrying a sign with a slogan written on it that showed his opposition to the event.” But the video footage shows Atkins holding a sign that simply read, “Jesus said go and sin no more.”
McClure also claimed in his affidavit that Atkins “began to yell to the people” gathered across the street for the event.
“I immediately approached him and told him that, while he was free to stand on that side of the street and hold his sign,” McClure’s testimony said, “he could not cross the street nor yell comments intended to disrupt the event.”
McClure’s testimony continued, saying Atkins had agreed to keep quiet. However, the video footage does not corroborate the details the officer gave, instead lending credence to Atkins testimony that he never agreed to be quiet.