Wednesday, October 13, 2004

11 Christians Arrested in Philadelphia

NEWS RELEASE: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 11, 2004
Christians Arrested
Eleven Christians Arrested, Jailed, and Charged
Under Hate Crimes Legislation

PHILADELPHIA -- On Sunday, October 10, 2004, eleven Christians with the
Philadelphia-based Repent America were arrested, jailed, and charged under
hate crimes legislation during an evangelistic outreach at the annual
"OutFest" homosexual pride event held in the public streets of
Philadelphia.

The six men and five women representing Repent America approached the
event and were immediately confronted with unlawful opposition by a group
of homosexuals. This group, the “Pink Angels”, was formed by homosexual
attorney Chuck Volz, a senior adviser to Philly Pride Presents, organizers
of the annual OutFest event which receives $22,500 yearly from the City of
Philadelphia. The “Pink Angels” blocked access to Repent America by
forming a human chain, refusing to allow the Christians to walk down the
public sidewalk. Police intervened shortly thereafter, escorting Repent
America through the human blockade.

While on the public sidewalk and street inside the event, Repent America
began to open-air preach with the use of Scripture banners, and to
distribute Gospel literature, as members of the "Pink Angels" blew loud
whistles and carried large signs alongside the Christians to block their
message and their access to the event attendees, while others screamed
obscenities. The police refused to take action as the Christians were
continuously followed, obstructed, and harassed.

Repent America obeyed all laws, and even the unlawful requests, to move by
the Philadelphia Civil Affairs police officers in an effort of
cooperation. Regardless of Repent America’s compliance, Chief James Tiano,
head of the Civil Affairs Unit, without warning, ordered the arrests of
the Christians and hauled them off to jail, where they spent 21 hours,
before being released the following day. Ten Christians were individually
charged with three felonies and five misdemeanors, while a teenager with
the group was charged with a misdemeanor.

“This is one of the most remarkable and unlawful actions by police that I
have ever witnessed. Their blatant disregard of the law by allowing
hecklers to impede our way, block our message, and then arrest us, is
inexcusable, especially by police officers who are specially trained to
protect civil rights,” stated Michael Marcavage, director of Repent
America. “Christians are now being labeled as ‘haters’ and any speech that
homosexuals perceive to be intimidating, such as our Christian witness at
OutFest, makes them a prime target for ‘hate crimes legislation’,”
Marcavage continued.

The three felonies and five misdemeanors include: Criminal Conspiracy
(Felony), Possession of Instruments of Crime (Misdemeanor), Reckless
Endangerment of Another Person (Misdemeanor), Ethnic Intimidation
(Felony), Riot (Felony), Failure to Disperse (Misdemeanor), Disorderly
Conduct (Misdemeanor), and Obstructing Highways (Misdemeanor). “We are
clearly ‘not guilty’ of these crimes, and with the help of our video
footage, we shall be vindicated of these trumped up charges,” Marcavage
concluded.

The Christians are scheduled to be arraigned on October 18, 2004 at 8:00AM
in the Philadelphia Criminal Justice Center.