NARRATIVE OF INCIDENT AT THE ANNUAL
“PRIDE PARADE AND FESTIVAL”
Written and compiled by Michael Marcavage
On Sunday, June 13, 2004, our ministry was present in Center City Philadelphia to evangelize at the annual homosexual “Pride Parade and Festival”. We were there to proclaim God’s Word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ through open-air preaching, Scripture banners, literature, and individual conversation. We arrived at approximately 12:30 p.m. on the corner of 12th and Locust Streets, which was one of the locations where people were gathered to watch the parade.
At this time, there were no police officers present, and our time of ministry at this location was good and without any form of hindrance. Within the hour the parade concluded in our area, so we moved to the intersection of Broad and Walnut Streets (northbound) where the parade was continuing. As we stood on the corner with our signs, in which some read “Trust Jesus”, “Know the God of the Bible”, and “Repent and Believe the Gospel”, I noticed several police officers from the Civil Affairs Unit. By this time, the parade was nearing it’s end and was passing by the reviewing stand on Broad Street. We then moved down Broad Street toward the festival area as the police officers followed us. These officers did not disrupt us as we headed toward the festival to minister the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the intersection of Broad and Washington Streets (southbound), we attempted to cross the four-lane Broad Street to be on the other side where those attending the event were walking down the sidewalk, mingling, and entering the festival. I was told by Captain William Fisher, Commanding Officer of the Civil Affairs Unit, that we could not cross the street. He said, “I can’t protect you over there; you have to stay here.” We then debated on the reason as to why we could not be on the other side of the street. “I’m keeping you here,” he concluded. I once again conveyed to the officer our desire to be across the street where the scores of people were walking down the public sidewalk and street to enter the festival. It was our intent to speak with those in attendance, distribute our literature, and open-air preach outside of the gathering on the public sidewalk.
During another discussion with Captain Fisher, he stated that the homosexuals at the gathering are violent. “It’s a safety issue and I have to protect you…my job as a sworn police officer is to protect life and property, and I can’t protect your life over there,” Fisher said. “Are they that violent?” I asked. “Yes they are,” Fisher stated. “They’re that violent?” I asked again. “Yes,” he said. “These individuals are violent?” I asked again. “Yes they are,” he again said. “Well, shouldn’t they be arrested then?” I questioned. “If they commit an act of violence then they will be, and I’m going to prevent an act of violence by keeping you here,” Fisher continued. “You’re gonna stay here or leave,” he continued as he walked away. “There’s no visible violence right now, but you’re saying you’re gonna protect us from something that could happen,” I concluded. I then said, “We would just like to talk with the individuals at the entrance please.” “I suggest that if you don’t like it to call the American Civil Liberties, alright?” Captain Fisher declared. “You’re going to settle for what I’m giving you here… I know what you want. You’re gonna stand— You’re gonna stand here. That’s it. No more debate. That’s it. If you don’t like that, you can leave.” I asked, “You won’t let me cross the street?” “Exactly,” he angrily replied.
As I attempted to walk across Broad Street’s crosswalk, Captain Fisher grabbed my arm and pulled me back to the corner. “He’s going to get arrested,” he declared. “I have a sworn duty to protect life, alright? I can’t protect your life over there,” he continued. I was then threatened to be arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. “That’s a citation issue, that’s not an arrestable issue,” I said. “A citation is gonna take you to police station; it’s gonna keep you there for 6 hours until this thing’s over, alright? It solves the problem.” “So, you’re saying that I can’t cross the street and if I do it’s a disorderly conduct act?” I asked. “If you cross the street; I’m going to lock you up for disorderly conduct,” Captain Fisher continued, “and I’m going to state because it’s a public safety issue… you’re endangering yourself.” “You put your foot out in that street and you’re arrested,” he concluded.
Soon a patty wagon arrived, and it was parked in a waiting position with the doors wide-open directly by us; not the festival itself. In fact, Captain Fisher stated, as documented in the video, "If you go on the other side of the street, you'll be in that wagon (pointing)." Captain Fisher was now standing with Chief James Tiano, who is the Chief of the Community Affairs Bureau. Chief Tiano informed me that we are in “sight and sound” distance, insinuating that their actions against us were lawful. I then asked them both, as Chief Tiano walked away, “We can’t put the signs away and then go over there?” I then asked Captain Fisher directly, “If we don’t bring the signs, then can we go all the way across the street?” Captain Fisher answered, “We have to take concern for public safety.” I explained to the officer “we’re not trying to be unsafe” and that it is “unreasonable that we can’t be on the same side of the street where the individuals we’re trying to minister to are”. “I guess we’re just gonna have to agree to disagree,” Fisher concluded. I then went on to ask, “Is there an ordinance that would prohibit us— Is there a certain law that you are enforcing?” Captain Fisher then remained silent. I added to the question by saying, “Is there a law that you are enforcing, officer? Because if we are in violation of the law certainly we’ll obey whatever the law is, but we have reason to believe that there is no law or ordinance that would prohibit us from crossing the street.” Captain Fisher refused to answer the question by remaining silent.
I also spoke with Sergeant Craig Smith who told me that 18 officers were present for us (16 civil affairs officers, 2 regular officers), and he stated that this information would be available upon subpoena.
Repent America Video Footage 6-13-04
Civil Affairs Unit, (215)685-3684
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