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Thursday, 7 November 2013

Babylon America’s War on street preachers

Evangelist Found ‘Guilty’ of Trespassing for Preaching at Public Train Station to Appeal Ruling

Parker and KarnsWEST WINDSOR, NJ. – An evangelist in New Jersey plans to appeal after a municipal judge found him guilty of defiant trespassing this week for preaching the Gospel at a public train station.

As previously reported, Robert Parker has been preaching at the Princeton Junction train station in West Windsor for the past five years, which is a part of the New Jersey Transit system, a provider of public transportation. Last summer, after he and fellow evangelist Don Karns had finished preaching and witnessing to those waiting for trains, and were leaving, the men were approached by Sergeant Kathleen Shanahan and Officer Sandy Crowe.

Parker and Karns told Christian News Network that Shanahan, who demanded identification, was “extremely hostile,” and claimed that the evangelists had violated the law for speaking at the train station without a permit. The men attempted to record the encounter with their cell phones, but were ordered to turn them off.

“[Sergeant Shanahan] started repeatedly saying, ‘Put the phone down; put the phone down,’” Karns recounted. “You guys are big guys, and I’m just a little officer. You know how scary it is when you have a camera in your hand. How do I know you’re not terrorists? I have no way of knowing that’s not a bomb.”

While Parker provided identification to the officers, Karns asserted his right to privacy. The men were then taken into custody and transported to be booked and charged. After spending three hours in jail, they were leveled with three offenses: defiant trespass, and two counts of obstruction for recording with a cell phone and declining to provide identification.

Parker and Karns later stood trial in municipal court before Judge Kenneth W. Lozier, who took over a year to reach a decision in the matter. Parker told Christian News Network that much of the testimony of the police officers was made to portray them as possible terrorists.

“[Shanahan testified] that we had backpacks, that we were heavily dressed on a very hot day in May, and that our pockets were bulging,” he explained. “She was intimidated by our size and she just took a terrorist class, and so to her, we looked like how a person would look as a terrorist.”

Parker explained that the men were wearing jackets because they had arrived at 5:30 a.m.—when passengers also begin arriving—and it was only 40 degrees out at that time.

He said that he was also disturbed when the prosecution used another officer, Officer Jackson, to testify that he had told Parker in 2009 that a permit was required. But Parker had video footage of the incident, which he said is “ambiguous at best” as the officer was willing to work out the situation to allow them to preach.
“It was very troubling to go and hear all that,” he stated. “I’ve been there for five years preaching the Gospel. Many police officers that came there gave me a thumbs up, saying, ‘You’re not doing anything [wrong]. You’re not bothering anybody. Just make sure you stay behind the yellow line.’ … A lot of respect from police until this day.”

Parker and Karns had to make several trips to court for the trial, including earlier this month, when they learned that the judge had forgotten about their case and had to reschedule his decision. While Karns was found not guilty of all charges, Lozier declared Parker guilty of defiant trespass for preaching at the public train station due to Jackson’s assertions.

But what shocked Parker the most is when Lozier began to pronounce sentencing.
“He was going to sentence me and put me in jail,” Parker explained. “But the prosecutor jumped up and said, ‘Listen, I don’t want to see him go to jail. Just make him pay a fine.’”

“I’m thinking, ‘I could have gone to jail today for … exercising my First Amendment right to free speech,” he continued. “I was like, ‘What has this country come to?’”

Parker states that he plans to appeal the ruling, which could take several months. He says that he has a heart for every passenger at the Princeton Junction train station and would like to regain his right to return and share the Gospel.

“I love each and every one of those commuters,” Parker said. “I have really good relationships with some of the people that go there. … We go there because we love them and we want to see them in Heaven. And so we preach the Gospel to them; we have no other motive.”

Missouri Police Descend Upon, Arrest Evangelists Preaching Gospel in Public Square

Brummitt yt

SPRINGFIELD – Three Christians with a church in Springfield, Missouri were arrested on Friday night while preaching the Gospel in the public square. The situation is part of an ongoing battle between members of Lighthouse Anabaptist Church and the Springfield Police Department.

“This is coming to a head,” Pastor Aaron Brummitt told Christian News Network on Sunday. “Somebody complains, they write a ticket. They call it a ‘peace disturbance.’”

Brummitt, who was moved by God to reach his country while serving in Afghanistan, has received nine tickets from the Springfield police just this year. However, Brummitt has repeatedly explained to police that the city has affirmed that his activities are permissible under the law.

In an email from Chris Straw, the director of Building Development Services, it was explained that “a formal permit is not required” for the church’s evangelistic activities, and that “all sound generating devices shall not exceed 75 decibels.” Brummitt said that he has followed the law and has done nothing wrong.
“We try to be reasonable,” he stated.

However, the city states that the reason the pastor is being ticketed is because members of the community are lodging complaints.

“We’re not the ones that are filing the charges,” city attorney Dan Wichmer told local television station KY3 News. “Yes, we file the charges, but there are citizens who are claiming that he’s disturbing their peace.”
This past Friday, the ongoing tension between Lighthouse Anabaptist Church and the Springfield Police Department escalated when several officers seized the church’s equipment and put the three of its members in handcuffs. Brumitt states that the group had been preaching outside of a concert in Park Central Square when an officer told the Christians to move elsewhere. Brummitt asked to see where the law prohibited them from preaching in the square.

“I told him, ‘You need to find me an ordinance,’” Brummitt explained. “He left, and then he came back with no ordinance.”

But what happened next was completely unexpected.
“The officers jumped out and grabbed our equipment … and started taking it,” Brummitt recalled.
At this point, Brummitt and a friend began to grasp the equipment as they believed that their private property could not be legally seized without a warrant. They were immediately put in handcuffs.
A woman from the church named Erica, who had been holding a sign during the outreach, then reached out for the video camera. Police began prying her hands away, and minutes later, she was also placed under arrest.

“We are taking this for evidence!” the officer declared.
“I’m not doing anything wrong!” the woman contended.
“The Lord moved on my heart to keep preaching while we were in handcuffs,” Brummitt explained, and so he continued preaching as approximately half a dozen officers swarmed the area. “It was an emotional moment.”

All three were placed into the back of a police van and where transported to the the local jail, where they were fingerprinted and had iris scans and mugshots taken.
“It was a very degrading sort of event,” Brummitt recalled.

However, he also remembered that when police arrived at the jail, they were surprised at what they saw.
“As they opened the door [to the van], they were kind of shocked to find three people singing hymns,” Brummitt recalled.

The pastor and his two congregants were released later that night, and were charged with obstruction for attempting to stop the police from confiscating their equipment.
“There could be a huge suit now because of the arrest,” Brummitt stated, advising that it becomes a class b felony in the state of Missouri to intentionally violate a person’s constitutional rights on the third offense.
The church has retained Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) for their legal counsel.