This is not a typo…..yes ‘Disturbing The Peace’ was the charge against myself and street preacher Jeremy from New Mexico as the million dollar question our lawyers will ask is “What Peace was broken?”
Now this is not the first time I’ve been charged with ‘Disturbing The Peace’ during Mardi Gras, as back in 1989 Brother Steven from Los Angeles and I were arrested and charged. Then…..there is more…..are you seated……I was charged with ‘healing people without a permit’ AND ‘Drunk in Public.’
How many Pentecostals would love to have that jail charged to their testimony? They accused me of trying to heal people in the handicap section of the parade and the ‘Drunk in Public’ charge was piled on because it was a very cold Mardi Gras and I was wearing shorts. No blow test or blood test given, just I was guilty of wearing shorts.
Now, the city of New Orleans had made a new law regarding large signs and megaphones after dark but our attorneys warned them of a lawsuit if it were imposed. When we arrived in New Orleans we went to the police station in the French Quarter and had a meeting with the head code man who informed me that we could continue as previous years. I was told that that the city would not enforce the law that weekend and they were true to their word but with false, at least regarding not inflict that particular law. We arrived in the ‘Big Easy’ with our banners and megaphones and were willing to go to jail if needed. We notified the media and police as to what street we would be on at evening with banners raised and several megaphones blasting. And they did not come to the fight. The devil is as a roaring lion, he is not, he is all growl with no teeth as we were gummed and licked that weekend. We came to preach AND WE DID, we came to fight for our free speech rights, AND WE DID. After we were released from jail, we walked in a local Church where we were given a standing ovation in this full house Church and within 40 minutes we were back on the streets as I preached in the same location I was arrested just under two hours before, just to let the homosexuals know that I AM OUT AND BACK.
Below is an article from NOLA.com and a ‘Press Release’ from the gay community regarding this new law in New Orleans.
(This from Press Release was sent to me)
“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Free Speech Banned on Bourbon Street
Does the LGBT community stand for free speech for all
… or just those we like?
Los Angeles, Feb. 16, 2012/GayMediawire/ -- GayMediawire (GMW) has recently been notified of a free speech controversy that started in New Orleans, Louisiana and is now spreading like a wildfire amongst online forum discussion boards for the LGBT community in states from coast to coast. The topic of note was best summarized by one forum contributor who anonymously asked:
“Does our community stand for free speech? Or only free speech for people we agree with?”
It all started with an article written by Brendan McCarthy and Bruce Eggler, writers for “The Times-Picayune” newspaper titled “Bible-thumping on Bourbon Street at Night Barred by Ordinance.” It seems the pair of eagle-eyed news sleuths uncovered an almost overlooked sentence in what was ostensibly supposed to be a New Orleans City Council passed ordinance from last October prohibiting “aggressive solicitation.” After all, no one wants the French Quarter tourist industry damaged by panhandlers intimidating visitors to the fine city, but what has alarmed the LGBT community is language McCarthy and Eggler found in one sentence near the end of the eight-page ordinance that said:
"It shall be prohibited for any person or group of persons to loiter or congregate on Bourbon Street for the purpose of disseminating any social, political or religious message between the hours of sunset and sunrise."
The law, sponsored by Councilwoman Kirstin Gisleson Palmer, justified the crackdown as needed to stop aggressive panhandlers, but it offered no explanation for the need to ban political or religious speech on Bourbon Street.
Not only did McCarthy and Eggler take note of the almost overlooked part of the ordinance, they also immediately identified a possible source, former mayoral candidate Leo Watermeier who they say “…wages an annual battle with the small group of anti-gay campaigners who show up during the Southern Decadence festival, using bullhorns and picket signs to convey their message that homosexuality is evil and that its public celebration during Decadence is particularly abominable.” But GMW and the LGBT community probably would have recognized the target of the ordinance even without Watermeier’s public email campaign. It wasn’t about political or religious speech – it was actually just one person, or perhaps it is better to say one person and his organization, the LGBT community legendary thorn-in-the-side, Ruben Israel and his Christian street preacher organization, Bible Believers.
Bible Believers, claiming 60 chapters nationwide and in other countries, have long been a colorful and controversial presence at LGBT events carrying large banners that read "Homo sex is sin!" and "Turn or burn!" Bible Believers style of preaching is called "confrontational evangelism," and they have at times in the past come into conflict with local ordinances for their use of bullhorns (amplified sound) as they challenge passersby to “Repent!”
And no member of Bible Believers is more recognizable to the LGBT community than their leader, Ruben Israel. Ruben Israel has for more than 30 years been a highly visible part of LGBT events all over the US. He is also known to have filed lawsuits against LGBT Pride parade events in Chicago, San Diego, and Salt Lake City for his groups right to march in the parade themselves as active participants (Mr. Israel is quoted as calling his bullhorn his “No Bull Horn.) Ruben Israel and Bible Believers leave no throw-the-first-stone unturned in their quest to practice their free speech rights to street preach. (Free speech he has a plenty and given the number of free speech lawsuits Ruben Israel has had filed for him in multiple states - free speech attorneys he has even more.) Ruben and his Bible Believer preachers are seen regularly at other events that they believe promote decadence like Key West’s Fantasy Fest, Mardi Gras, Southern Decadence, rock concerts and even the Super Bowl. MR. ISRAEL IS ALSO WELL KNOWN FOR PREACHING AT SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA’S HARE KRISNA PARADE WHILE DRESSED IN A COW SUIT.
When noted Jewish activist, Joel Margulies, was asked to comment on the growing controversy over free speech rights on Bourbon Street, he responded with a quote attributed to pastor Martin Niemoller:
“First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
NOTE FROM COLIN DUPREE, Editor of GMW – “While Ruben Israel and his organization Bible Believers have been a controversial and often unwelcome presence preaching at LGBT events for more than 20 years, we appreciate that they do attempt to work respectfully with both law enforcement and LGBT organizations to keep their preaching within respectful and cooperative parameters. These preachers are not like the Phelps group. They are not part of WBC and do not protest at gay or military funerals. Why some people would even say it isn’t a successful Gay Pride parade if Ruben and his group don’t show up. We hope that Mardi Gras will recognize that Mr. Israel and Bible Believers have as much right to speak at the 2012 event as anyone else.”
GMW contacted Ruben Israel for a quote.
Mr. Israel said, “I will use Nate Kellum of the Alliance Defense Fund to represent our first Amendment rights. A letter has already been sent to the New Orleans City Attorney’s office last Thursday regarding the matter and the city has yet to respond.”
Mr. Israel also provided his website and phone contact information:
Website http://officialstreetpreachers.com/ Telephone (562) 619-****
Gay Media Wire distributes news alerts to radio, television, and print news media that are of significant interest to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and supportive communities. If you have a news topic that you believe impacts LGBT interests, please send your release to firstname.lastname@example.org. All press releases from Gay Media Wire are public access documents that may be posted and reprinted without permission.”
Full report of Mardi Gras complete with pictures and preach videos coming soon coupled with a report from the Academy Awards