Damon Atkins, the Christian street preacher arrested for sharing the Gospel and the Bible at a Pride rally in Reading, Pennsylvania, as soon as he arrived, will not appear in court, as the criminal charges have been dropped by the district attorney.
Atkins confirmed to CBN’s Faithwire the charges have been dropped, adding, “Praise the Lord and glory to God and our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ of Nazareth!” via text message. Atkins also noted he is “so thankful so many people have seen the GO AND SIN NO MORE sign.”
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A statement from the district attorney in Berks County read, “After a review of the incident, which took place on June 3, 2023, in the 800 block of Washington Street in the City of Reading, the district attorney’s office has withdrawn the charges of disorderly conduct filed against Damon Atkins.”
According to The Lancaster Patriot, County Commissioner Christian Leinbach said after reviewing the video, recorded by local resident and Christian Matthew Wear, “From what I have seen thus far I believe this was an unlawful arrest and could open the City of Reading and their police department to legal action.”
In his video, Wear explained that, before he began filming, he shared the Gospel and was warned by the officer he would be arrested. Wear rightly predicts, on video, the same officer who warned him would give Atkins “a hard time”.
CBN’s Faithwire requested comment from the Reading Police Department, which has a direct hotline to a “LGBTQ Liaison” listed among their contacts. That contact number, however, has since been deleted.
The department has not not responded to a request for comment.
Continue reading below for the original report.
Original Story Below
Damon Atkins strolled up to the “first ever” Pride rally in Reading, Pennsylvania, wielding a sign, a Bible, and his faith. Less than one minute after joining a smattering of other Christians expressing their views, Atkins found himself getting hauled off in cuffs and charged with criminal disorderly conduct.
The shocking encounter was captured on video by local resident Matthew Wear, who said he wasn’t aware of the rally and only got out of his car in order to “provide encouragement” to the other Christians in attendance. Wear told CBN’s Faithwire he “preached for about 10 minutes across the street,” when an officer aggressively approached him, laid his finger on him, and told him, “If you don’t stop shouting insults across the street, I will arrest you on the spot.”
Wear’s immediate reaction to the officer’s threat was that he “was a tyrant” and “meant business.”
A few moments later, Atkins showed up and briefly interacted with the same officer. He tried to quote 1 Corinthians 14:33 — “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people” (NIV) — but was unable to finish before he was arrested.
You can watch the disturbing interaction and our interview with Atkins below:
As Wear panned the camera, Atkins could be seen down the street, making his way toward the protest. Wear eerily predicts the officer will “give them a hard time.” Indeed, the officer identified by The Lancaster Patriot as Sgt. Bradley T. McClure, immediately approaches Atkins and begins advising him to “let them have their event” and “respect them.”
Atkins can be heard on video arguing it’s public property, to which McClure agrees. Atkins, speaking to CBN’s Faithwire, said he also told them, “I’m not being rude; I’m just here to spread the Gospel of Good News. Jesus Christ saved me and He can save everyone, including you [the officer].”
McClure responded, “I don’t care; I’m gonna stand here and you’re gonna be quiet.”
It was then Atkins began to quote 1 Corinthians 14:33.
Atkins claims that, at one point, McClure insinuated God is a derogatory term, warning him not to continue saying such things to those attending the rally so they could “have their event.”
As he was being cuffed, pro-LGBTQ rally attenders cheered the arrest. Wear couldn’t help but note the irony on video: a Christian trying to read the Bible was being taken away by police as some individuals dressed as demons were freely heading to the Pride rally.
“I was charged with criminal disorderly conduct with engaged to fight,” Atkins said.
The Christian street preacher stressed he loves everyone and doesn’t just focus on one issue or sin, noting he says the same things to anyone living in any type of “willful sin.”
The Lancaster Patriot reported on the contents of the affidavit, which notably included line about not being allowed to “yell comments” across the street:
According to an affidavit of probable cause, McClure claims that “[Atkins] was carrying a sign with a slogan written on it that showed his opposition to the event.”
The video footage shows Atkins holding a sign that read, “JESUS SAID GO AND SIN NO MORE.”
In the affidavit, McClure also claims Atkins “began to yell to the people” attending the Pride 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 wrote in the affidavit, “he could not cross the street nor yell comments intended to disrupt the event.”
Atkins said he found the arrest particularly head-scratching, given the threats he’s received while attending past events to preach the Gospel, including a Pride event in which an attendee told him he would “shoot him in the head” if he had a gun. Atkins, for his part, said he is motivated by love, because Jesus “taught me to love my neighbor as myself.”
Atkins is set to appear in court to face the charges in mid-June and said he doesn’t yet have any legal representation.
CBN’s Faithwire reached out to the Reading Police Department for comment on the arrest, but they have not yet responded. This story will be updated should a representative respond with a statement.
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