Main | Thursday, March 25, 2010

Pride Protester Jailed Over 2007 Arrest

In 2007 Julian Raven and six other Christians refused to leave a public park in Elmira, New York during a gay pride event. Instead Raven and his party approached the event stage, laid face down in the grass and prayed, resulting in their arrest for causing a public disturbance. Even though his case is still under appeal, Emira police rearrested Raven this week and he is now serving a nine-day sentence for disorderly conduct, turning him into an immediate martyr of the religious right. World Net Daily:
Julian Raven of Elmira, N.Y., said he was "surprised by police at his office," handcuffed and taken into custody this week, according to the Alliance Defense Fund, which is defending Raven. "According to his wife, police escorted him out of a court hearing … in handcuffs in front of his crying children to begin serving his nine-day jail sentence," the organization said in a report. "We are surprised at how eager the city was to arrest Mr. Raven again in light of his appeal. Now he will serve time in jail; however, we will continue to aggressively pursue his appeal in court," said Joel Oster, ADF senior legal counsel.

Originally seven people were arrested June 23, 2007, in Elmira's Wisner Park at a homosexual festival promoted by city officials as open to all. Four were convicted, but three of the convictions already have been overturned. The Christians "made their way to an area in front of the stage and began to pray silently while lying prostrate in the grass. A police sergeant had earlier informed Julian Raven that he could not enter the public park, walk through the park, or talk to anyone in the park about his religion. After the group began to pray silently on their faces, all were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct," ADF reported. Court records show Sgt. Sharon Moyer told Raven he could not disrupt the event. So, ADF reported, he and the others "entered the event to pray silently for event participants and to share the Gospel with them."

"There was plenty of room in the park. No one was being turned away. They walked in silence. Neither the defendant nor anyone from the group bumped into anyone as they entered and they did not force others out of the way," ADF said. They walked to a grassy area near the front, kneeled or laid down, and prayed. "They chose this posture in order to be as non-threatening as possible," ADF said. Moyer then arrested the seven and reported it was because of concern that the homosexual festival participants might react with hostility to the Christians.
Last year the city of Elmira settled a civil lawsuit brought by Raven because he was threatened with arrest for pulling the same stunt during a 2008 pride event. Raven's case has already been a frequent talking point for wingnuts claiming that evil gays suppress religious speech.

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