A Reading man was arrested last weeked while reciting a Bible verse during Reading’s first officially endorsed “Pride March and Rally.”
Damon Atkins, reportedly a counter-protester at the event, was handcuffed and detained by the police shortly after he arrived, according to The Lancaster Patriot.
On Saturday morning, Atkins arrived at the sidewalk across from City Hall where the event was taking place. Allegedly within a minute of his arrival, Atkins was placed in handcuffs by Police Sgt. Bradley McClure. The arrest was captured on video by Matthew Wear, who had been preaching at the site before Atkins arrived. Wear claimed that he was also warned by McClure to stop preaching, The Patriot reports.
The footage of the event, which Wear subsequently uploaded to YouTube, shows Atkins holding a sign that read “JESUS SAID GO AND SIN NO MORE,” and interacting with McClure. Atkins can be heard stating that he is on public property and asserting that he is showing respect to the event attendees. At one point, Atkins started to quote a part of 1 Corinthians 14:33 – “God is not the author of confusion” – but was interrupted by McClure’s intervention and subsequent arrest, The Patriot reports.
In an affidavit of probable cause, obtained by The Patriot which is widely available online now, McClure claimed that Atkins had been warned not to disrupt the event, and that he resumed yelling derogatory comments less than a minute after the warning. However, the video footage only records Atkins beginning to quote the Bible verse before he was arrested.
Atkins has been charged with “Disorderly Conduct Engage in Fighting,” with court documents citing that he intended to cause substantial public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm. A criminal complaint from the Reading Police Department stated that Atkins had yelled derogatory comments at an organization holding a permitted event, despite a prior police warning.