Greetings friends and prayer-partners. It is truly a sad day in America, the supposed “Land of the Free.” Last night, my brother (Matthew) and I were arrested for “tresspassing on public property” simply because we were distributing Gospel tracts freely at a free public access event on the town square in Hickory, NC (In the above picture, our group poses after Matthew and I were released. We are holding our arrest reports). I have the incident on video camera. We were accused of trespassing, and I simply asked “What specific law are we breaking?” twice. They gave me no real answer, so I then explained that I had a copy of the Hickory Code of Ordinances in my backpack and that I needed to know how we were breaking the law. I guess that was enough for them, for they immediately handcuffed me and led me away. My brother, who videotaped my arrest, was then arrested himself. He explained that he had every right to be in that place just as all the other people who were there for the event. He also explained that he was simply standing there; how was this in violation of the law? They arrested him too. We spent some time in jail cells late last night, and it was almost comical to hear the officers in the background debating with the magistrate on exactly how to charge us. In the end, we were cited with 2nd degree trespassing, and our court date is set for August 26.
There were three other gentlemen, including Bishnu, with us doing the work of evangelism last night. The police specifically told my friends they were trespassing by handing out religious literature. The ironic thing is that I initially got involved in a witnessing conversation with a Catholic when we first arrived. So, by virtue of the circumstance, I personally had not opportunity to give out a single Gospel tract. My entire time before the arrest was spent in conversation. As soon as the conversation was over, I saw that my friends were being hassled by the police. I simply approached, turned the video camera on, and asked about what was transpiring. I then asked a total of three questions, and for that, I was arrested. I, personally, was never told to leave, and I never refused to leave. I also had not had opportunity to do what they were claiming was in violation of the law. The charge against me reads that I was refused entrance to the town square by the man in charge of the event and two police officers and that I adamantly refused to leave, entering against their orders. Of course, none of these men ever approached ME with such orders. This whole thing is so ludicrous that I almost chuckle thinking about it. Earlier in the evening, as mentioned, my friends were told that it was ok for us to be there and talk to people, but we were not allowed to distribute Gospel tracts. This is amazing, because the Hickory Code of Ordinances says clearly in Section 21-2: “No person shall distribute any circulars or other advertising matter within the fire limits of the city, provided, THAT THIS SECTION SHALL NOT APPLY TO RELIGIOUS LITERATURE CIRCULATED FROM PERSON TO PERSON.” At the root of the whole issue was Gospel tracts, and this is a right clearly protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (follow this link to see how the U.S. Supreme Court has addressed this specific issue over the years: ( http://www.solidrockfaith.com/gospeltracts.pdf )
Christians in America need to wake up and realize we are losing our freedoms to share the Gospel despite the clarity and guarantees of the law. One of the officers summed up the present situation best: “We’ll arrest you regardless and let the courts sort out whether or not you are breaking the law.” Friends, did I wake up in the USA yesterday morning or the USSR? If Bible-believing Christians do not stand up and speak out, all will soon be lost.
Please pray for us in the coming weeks. We are currently seeking legal representation and believe that the Hickory City Police Department should be held accountable for their clear trampling of our First Amendment Rights. The event we have been targeting continues for several more weeks, and if we cease going to share the Word, they have won the battle. Pray for us as we seek wisdom on whether to return to those public sidewalks again next Friday night and continue handing out the Word of God, understanding the risk involved. In the end, my hope is that this situation mobilizes believers in Hickory to take a stand against a very thuggish and Gestapo-like police force. Also, may our labors and the stand we take for the Gospel of Jesus Christ open the door for young believers to openly share their faith on the public streets and sidewalks of Hickory for years to come.
Thanks for your prayers and support. Now, go preach Jesus Christ and serve your King.
For the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ,
Below, are two video clips of the incident. The second clip picks up where the first leaves off. At this point, I handed the camera to Matthew while being handcuffed, and it had to be turned back on. Notice that we were never told we were under arrest. We were never read our rights. And, the people and music in the background shows clearly we were in a public place. Enjoy. This should make Bible-believing Christians pretty angry. Sound the alarm!