Campus Evangelists Clash With Police
Dispute over signs, 1st Amendment rights prompts 4 arrests, including felony charge
Posted: May 23, 2009
11:15 pm Eastern
, © 2009 WorldNetDaily
A campus evangelism group is stunned today, as a ministry event at a community college in Ohio resulted in four members being arrested, one on a felony assault charge that the ministry’s leader claims is fabricated.
“I’ve done ministries like this at more than 200 universities,” said Jason Storms, director of Faithful Soldier School of Evangelism, a ministry of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wis. “We train people to do evangelism, and I have never seen an incident like this.”
Storms and a team of students earlier this week traveled to Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, with signs, literature and a message of faith.
When they arrived, however, a student complaint led campus police to confront the evangelism team and demand that their signs and literature be put away in accordance with college policy. When two of the evangelists refused the order, however, insisting their materials were protected by the freedom of speech guaranteed in the First Amendment, the officers arrested them on charges of disorderly conduct.
“There are many times when police hassle us and intimidate or bully us on campus, and usually we stand them down and are successful in defending our rights to freedom of speech,” Storms told WND. “I can count on one hand the number of times we’ve had an arrest situation.”
Later in the afternoon, however, two more arrests followed, one on a now-disputed felony charge of striking a police officer.
Storms himself was detained by police, when after speaking freely with students on campus for a couple of hours, he approached Officer Michael Beane to inquire about the charges filed against the other two evangelists. Storms and Beane then got into an argument, resulting in the officer claiming he was being harassed and Storms being detained in a holding cell.
The situation escalated, however, when Officer Beane demanded that a member of the evangelism team surrender a cell phone that had been taping the incident.
Faithful Soldier student Katie Carroll refused to give up her phone and hid behind fellow evangelist team member Daniel Pollion. What happened next is highly disputed. Natasha Baker, director of public relations for the campus police force, told WND Pollion struck Beane in the face.
“We have witness testimonies, students who did see the officer being punched by one of the demonstrators and at that point [Pollion] was arrested,” Baker said. “We have not had anyone file a police report stating otherwise.”
The members of Faithful Soldier, however, tell a different story.
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