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Philadelphia Police Arrest 11 Christians for ‘Hate Crimes’ at Homosexual ‘Outfest’    10/13/2004

By Robert Knight

Group is jailed for “ethnic intimidation,” “criminal conspiracy,” several other charges.

Ten adults and a teen-ager who showed up to sing hymns and carry signs peacefully at Philadelphia’s latest homosexual celebration were arrested on Sunday and spent 21 hours in jail.

According to Michael Marcavage, founder of Repent America, which organized the protest, the 11 defendants were charged with three felonies and five misdemeanors, including a “hate crime.” If convicted on all counts, the defendants could face 47 years in prison, he said.

The counts read to them by the bail commissioner included:

1.  “ethnic intimidation” (2nd-degree felony “hate crime”).

2.  “criminal conspiracy” (1st-degree felony).

3.  “possession of instruments of crime” (1st-degree misdemeanor).

4.  “reckless endangerment of another person” (2nd-degree felony).

5.  “riot” (3rd-degree felony).

6.  “failure to disperse” (2nd-degree misdemeanor).

7.  “disorderly conduct” (2nd-degree misdemeanor).

8.  “obstructing a highway” (3rd-degree misdemeanor).,

The “ethnic intimidation” charge was made under Pennsylvania’s Ethnic Intimidation and Institutional Vandalism Act, the state’s “hate crimes” law, to which “sexual orientation” was added recently as a victim category.

Some of the charges may have been dropped since the defendants were released. Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Officer Maria Ibrahim said the current charges were: “criminal conspiracy,” “failure to disperse,” “disorderly conduct” and “obstructing a highway.” The District Attorney’s office had not returned a call to Concerned Women for America’s (CWA’s) Culture & Family Institute as of press time.

“We’re going to do whatever it takes to ensure that the Philadelphia Police Department and the city are held accountable for this,” Brian Fahling of the American Family Association (AFA) Center for Law and Policy, who is representing the Christians, told CWA’s Culture & Family Institute. “As far as we can tell, this was utterly uncalled for and has no legal justification.”

The group had arrived at about 1 p.m. at the Outfest National Coming Out Day street fair, a music and arts festival celebrating homosexuality that the city helps sponsor with a $22,500 grant.

The defendants, who range in age from 17 to 72, were confronted almost immediately by the “Pink Angels,” a group that blocked them by interlocking their arms, shouting obscenities, and shoving large, pink Styrofoam cutouts of angels in front of them. But the only ones arrested were the Christians, the police confirmed.

“We were on a corner across the street from a stage where a transvestite was performing, and we were singing ‘Blessed Be the Name of the Lord,’” Marcavage said.

Marcavage, 25, said a documentary filmmaker captured the entire episode, using two different camera angles. “I was miked, so all my discussions with the police are recorded,” he said. “We did what they asked, and walked down the street. A few minutes later, the police stopped us and put us in paddy wagons.”

Police released the Christians on their own signature after they spent the night in jail, except for one 67-year-old woman who was still being held today based on a charge lodged years ago at a pro-life demonstration at an abortion clinic, Marcavage said. The woman had been paroled, and the AFA Law Center was faxing a letter to the District Attorney today seeking her release, he said.

Marcavage, who is no stranger to protests, was arrested earlier this year along with Urban Family Council board member William Devlin and others in West Chester, Pennsylvania, for blocking the removal of a Ten Commandments plaque on city property. The plaque was temporarily covered until a court ruling uncovered it, Marcavage said.

Philadelphia was also in the news during the summer when the Phillies baseball team hosted “Gay Day” at Citizens Bank Park, featuring the first pitch thrown out by a player from a lesbian softball team. When Christians led by Marcavage unfurled a banner that read: “Homosexuality Is Sin; Christ Can Set You Free,” two homosexual couples stood and began kissing. Then some people tried to tear down the banner, and security forces came and ejected the Christians from the ballpark. No one else was evicted.

Philadelphia has increased its visibility recently in homosexual circles by buying ads touting the city as “gay-friendly” in various homosexual-themed magazines and travel guides. One of them depicts Betsy Ross sewing a rainbow flag instead of the first American flag.

Marcavage says he is undeterred by the arrest, but says he found it odd that they were released merely on their own signatures after being charged with “three felonies and five misdemeanors.”

“They’re criminalizing Christianity through this homosexual agenda,” Marcavage said. “It’s happening right here, in the birthplace of American freedom.”

Incidentally, the last four digits of Philadelphia’s main police phone number are: 1776.


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Why is it that homosexual type events and gatherings are protected under freedom of speech...but christians cant do the same without getting arrested?


That's not what this issue is. According to the city:

City officials said the video did not show the start of the confrontation, when they said Marcavage tried to interrupt a performance with his antigay preaching and then disobeyed a police order to move to the perimeter of the Outfest to avoid the potential for violence.


Had there been a Christian event that a gay pride group had attempted to not merely protest, but disrupt and then if the gay pride group refused a reasonable time, place and manner restriction issued by the cops, I bet the same thing would have happened to them.

Liberal groups that seek to disrupt an event, not merely protest it, e.g. shouting anti-Bush rhetoic at a Bush campaign rally, are legitimately carried away from the event and often arrested. In fact, there were ample incidents in which the most peaceful of "protests", e.g. a Kerry button, got people ejected.

A few years back an Irish gay pride group wanted to march in a St. Patricks Day parade in Boston. They were not allowed and that was upheld since their views did not match the views of the sponsoring group which had a right to control its own message.

The leader of this group has a history that indicates he wants to get arrested to raise the profile. There are folks like this of every political stripe. Truly peaceful protests, e.g. the kind that don't disrupt, don't get much press. These types of protesters, liberal and conservative, want to present themselves as victims and decry the injustice of it all.

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There is also video, taken by a documentary group from San Francisco, showing the entire confrontation. Apparently there are discrepancies in the police version and what actually happened. The police tried to confiscate the cameras of the documentary group and threatened to jail them as well. From what I heard on the radio, the demonstrators and the documentary group are not related in any way.

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There is also video, taken by a documentary group from San Francisco, showing the entire confrontation.  Apparently there are discrepancies in the police version and what actually happened. The police tried to confiscate the cameras of the documentary group and threatened to jail them as well.  From what I heard on the radio, the demonstrators and the documentary group are not related in any way.


Do you know what type of documentary it was supposed to be?

Anyway, not having any first-hand knowledge, it sounds like they were likely "over charged" at first to try to gain leverage for a plea. I don't know if it applies here, but cops often overreact in free speech situations, placing their view of "order" over Constitutional dictates. This is not necessarily a criticism, because they often aren't well trained in the finer points of Constitutional law and their default is to try to restore "order." When they do overreact, DAs rarely want to lose a case that brings bad press and a winnable lawsuit. In fact, over something relatively minor, but high profile, they may not want to waste resources, even if they think a suit or criminal case is winnable. We'll see what happens. In any event, the city has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt which, if the tape truly shows something to the contrary, would be difficult.

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