Charges have been dropped against a Pennsylvania man who was recently arrested for trying to quote the Bible to LGBT rally attendees.
“After a review of the incident which took place on June 3, 2023, in the 800 block of Washington Street in the City of Reading, the District Attorney’s Office has withdrawn the charges of disorderly conduct filed against Damon Atkins,” a Facebook post from the Berks County District Attorney reads.
“The charges were withdrawn after the District Attorney’s Office reviewed the videos of the incident along with applicable case law,” the Facebook post adds.
According to The Lancaster Patriot, which covered details of the arrest, an email from Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach said, “From what I have seen thus far I believe this was an unlawful arrest and could open the City of Reading and their police department to legal action.”
The incident occurred outside City Hall on 815 Washington St., where the first Reading Pride march and rally was held for 2023.
The Lancaster Patriot spoke to Atkins and the man who recorded footage of his arrest, Matthew Wear.
Wear told the outlet he was preaching to the Pride rally attendees before Atkins’ arrival, and the same officer who arrested Atkins told Wear to stop preaching.
“A cop got in my face, laid hands on me, and threatened to arrest me if I didn’t stop,” Wear says in the footage.
The Lancaster Patriot said Atkins stood on the public sidewalk holding signs. The officer later confronted Atkins.
“This is public property,” Atkins told the officer — identified by the outlet as Sgt. Bradley McClure — who agreed it was public property but still insisted that Atkins “let them have their event” and “respect it.”
“You know who’s cheering for us? The people that are in hell,” Atkins replied.
A Christian man was arrested for protesting a "Pride" event on a public street in Reading, PA. Damon Atkins was reciting a Bible verse when he was arrested as the man filming says, "I cannot believe I'm watching this." pic.twitter.com/SmvPlhr900
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) June 6, 2023
The Lancaster Patriot said Atkins eventually explained he was referring to the story of the rich man and Lazarus in the Gospel of Luke, where a rich man begs Father Abraham to send someone to warn his brothers of the place of torment he’s in.
While the officer turned and walked away, Atkins said, “So you do you, and I’m gonna do me.”
Atkins later yelled at the rally attendees, saying, “You,” and then uttering the words, “God is not,” before the officer interrupts him with, “That’s it! You’re done!” and arrests him.
The Pride rally attendees applauded Atkins’ arrest.
Moments later, a handcuffed Atkins continued trying to speak to the rally attendees, but the officer turned him around and put him against a building’s outer wall. The officer then walked Atkins away from the rally as two officers sat him on a curb and emptied his backpack.
“Sheer tyranny,” Wear, who was still recording video of everything, said about what was occuring in front of his eyes.
Pride rally attendees later mocked Atkins and Wear, referring to them as “protesters across the street” who managed to “get themselves in trouble with the police.” The person on the microphone urged the protesters to put “some love into that heart of yours.”