A street preacher busted last week for shouting Bible verses across from a Pride-flag-raising in Pennsylvania has had the disorderly conduct charges against him dropped.
Videos show Damon Atkins holding a sign reading, “Jesus said go and sin no more” while standing across the street from the June 3 event in Reading.
In a video clip circulating online, Atkins can be seen being confronted by a police officer, who tells him, “Let them have their day. Be respectful.”
Atkins first responds by saying that he is standing on public property before adding, “Know who’s cheering for us? The people who are in Hell. So you do you, and I’m going to do me.”
As the cop walks away Atkins can be heard loudly quoting scripture, prompting him to quickly be handcuffed.
The crowd gathered across the street at the city’s Pride event can be heard clapping as he is cuffed and placed against a wall to be secured.
Reading Police Chief Richard Tornielli told WFMZ that Atkins was taken into custody because he was being disruptive to the event and disorderly — not because of what he was saying.
“Our officers gave him warnings to cease that behavior, as it was disrupting the event that was taking place,” Tornielli said.
Atkins, who said he preaches in the city, told the news station he was not targeting any certain group of people.
“I come to the event because the Bible says go to all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. No one is exempt,” said Atkins, although he acknowledged he could have handled the flag-raising situation better.
The Berks County District Attorney’s Office said that after reviewing videos of the incident, the charges of disorderly conduct against Atkins were withdrawn Wednesday.
“After review of the video of the incident, including body-worn cameras, and a review of the case law, we did not believe we could prove a criminal case of disorderly conduct,” the office said in a statement.