UPDATE: On Wednesday the Berks County District Attorney’s Office stated it had dropped the charges of disorderly conduct against Atkins following a review of the footage and applicable case law.
READING, Pennsylvania (LifeSiteNews) — A Christian protester in Pennsylvania was arrested Saturday as he quoted Scripture verses in response to an LGBT “pride” month event. After footage of the incident went viral on social media, the county district attorney’s office stated it had dropped its charges of disorderly conduct following a review of the video and “applicable case law.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the Berks County District Attorney issued a press release stating that the charges against Christian protester Damon Atkins had been dropped.
“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place on June 3, 2023, in the 800 block of Washington Street in the City of Reading, the District Attorney’s Office has withdrawn the charges of disorderly conduct filed against Damon Atkins,” the DA’s office said. “The charges were withdrawn after the District Attorney’s Office reviewed the videos of the incident along with applicable case law.”
Prior to the DA’s decision to drop the charges, Atkins had been arrested by Reading, Pennsylvania, police officers on June 3 for “criminal disorderly conduct” for preaching against the Reading’s first ever “Pride March and Rally” outside City Hall on Washington Street.
The event included men dressed as sexually exaggerated versions of women and the raising of an LGBT rainbow flag atop the City Hall building.
Atkins, who held up a sign that read “God said go and sin no more” and wore a shirt with a message reading “You must be born again,” stood on the opposite side of the street from pro-LGBT activists and spoke out against the proceedings.
Matthew Wear, a Reading resident who had been preaching across the street for a short time before being told by an officer to cease doing so, began recording the pro-LGBT parade – where children were in attendance – and captured the footage of Atkins being arrested in a video posted to YouTube.
Wear told The Lancaster Patriot that Atkins had been on site preaching for only about a minute before he was approached by the same officer who had contacted him just moments earlier.
The officer has been identified by the outlet as Sgt. Bradley T. McClure.
“If you don’t stop shouting insults across the street I will arrest you on the spot,” Sgt. McClure told Atkins, according to Wear.
“I’m not being rude, I’m just here to spread the Gospel of good news,” Atkins reportedly responded. “Jesus Christ saved me and he can save everyone, including you.”
The video then shows the police officer telling Atkins to “let” the LGBT supporters “have their day.”
In response, Atkins repeatedly pointed out that he was on “public property,” and suggested that “people that are in hell” are “cheering.”
“So, you do you, and I’m going to do me,” he said.
The police officer briefly walked away from Atkins, who began to quote 1 Corinthians 14:33, which says in the New King James Version: “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.”
Atkins was only able to say “God is not the-” before Sgt. McClure turned around and said “That’s it. You’re done.”
Atkins was then placed in handcuffs by Sgt. McClure and two female officers.
The Lancaster Patriot obtained documentation showing that Atkins had been charged with “Disorderly Conduct Engage in Fighting.”
In an affidavit of probable cause, McClure said Atkins had begun “to yell to the people at the event” and that he “approached him and told him that, while he was free to stand on that side of the street and hold his sign, he could not cross the street nor yell comments intended to disrupt the event.”
McClure said Atkins “said he understood,” but that “[l]ess than a minute later he resumed yelling derogatory comments to the people at the event,” at which point the officer placed Atkins under arrest.
In comments to The Lancaster Patriot, Atkins denied agreeing to comply with the officer’s commands and pushed back on claims that he had been making “derogatory comments.”
“Now in this country, ‘God’ is a derogatory term,” Atkins told The Lancaster Patriot. “That makes me sick to my stomach.”
“Jesus has taught me to love my neighbor as myself,” Atkins said, adding that urging sinners to repent – which was his goal last weekend – is an act of love.
Prior to the district attorney’s decision to drop all charges on Wednesday, Atkins had been slated to appear in court on June 16.
Atkins previously expressed gratitude for the support he’s received so far from sympathetic people.
“I’ve received nothing but an outpouring of love and support,” Atkins told Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in a Tuesday interview. “They just want to make sure that I’m okay.”
It remains to be seen whether Atkins will take action against the city.
In an e-mail provided to The Lancaster Patriot, Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach called Atkins’ arrest “unlawful” and said it “could open the City of Reading and their police department to legal action.”