Damon Atkins, a street preacher, was apprehended by the police in Reading, Pennsylvania, for delivering a brief speech at a pride event held at Reading City Hall. The arrest was captured on video on June 3 by another street preacher named Matthew Wear.
In the past three years, the city of Reading has displayed a pride flag at city hall during the month of June. Watch the video below to see for yourself.
This year, Reading Pride Celebration collaborated with the city for the flag-raising ceremony. Members of the LGBT community assembled for the flag-raising and subsequently participated in a short pride parade, covering approximately three and a half blocks. The parade culminated at a park where a rainbow pride celebration took place, featuring speakers and complimentary food, as shared by Enrique Castro, the Executive Director of Reading Pride Celebration, in an interview with The Epoch Times.
Atkins arrived at the event around 10:05 a.m., carrying a sign displaying a slogan expressing his opposition to the event, according to the police complaint. The 41-year-old Atkins was wearing a T-shirt stating, “You must be born again,” and his sign had biblical quotes on both sides. One side read, “Jesus said I am the way, the truth, and the life,” while the other side read, “Jesus said go and sin no more.”
The flag ceremony occurred on one side of the street, while Atkins stood on the opposite sidewalk. The video captured by Wear showed Reading police officers positioned in the middle of the road.
“He started shouting at the people attending the event. I immediately approached him and instructed him not to make disruptive comments. Atkins acknowledged understanding,” stated the complaint. “However, less than a minute later, he resumed shouting derogatory remarks at the event attendees.
“Due to the prior warning given to him, I promptly informed him that he was being arrested for disorderly conduct,” continued the complaint.
The video does not clearly show whether Atkins was yelling before a police officer approached him. The officer advised him to be respectful and “let them have their day,” pointing across the street towards the gathering.
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