by Chris Menahan, Information Liberation:
Damon Atkins, the Christian preacher who was arrested last month and ordered to “respect” LGBTs by police while protesting a “Pride” march in Reading, Pennsylvania, is suing city officials for violating his constitutional rights.
“In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, plaintiff Damon Atkins claimed that when police placed him in handcuffs during a June 3 Pride event at Reading City Hall, they acted in retaliation against his religious viewpoints and were guilty of violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights,” WFMZ reports.
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“The lawsuit names the two officers present that day as well as the mayor, police chief and the City of Reading as defendants,” WFMZ noted. “The suit seeks unspecified damages as well as court costs and fees.”
The Lancaster Patriot has more:
Damon Atkins, of Reading, Pennsylvania, was arrested on June 3 for publicly quoting a portion of a Bible verse while standing across the street from a homosexual pride festival. Atkins was held for several hours before being released with criminal charges and a court date set. The Berks County District Attorney later dropped all charges against Atkins.
The civil complaint, filed by Joel A. Ready of Cornerstone Law Firm, lists the City of Reading, Mayor Eddie Moran, Chief of Police Richard Tornielli, and police officers Bradley T. McClure and Courtney Dupree as defendants.
The complaint calls for a jury trial and lists nine counts against the defendants and requests the court “enter judgment in favor of the Plaintiff and against the Defendants” including attorneys’ fees and “such other relief as the court deems necessary, just, or appropriate.”
Moran, who attended the homosexual pride festival on June 3, publicly defended the actions of arresting officer McClure, saying, “freedom of speech does not include the right to disrupt an organized event and interfere with the rights of others.”
Tornielli also defended the actions of the police officers, saying that the “officers gave him warnings to cease that behavior that was disrupting the event.”
A video of Atkins’ arrest went viral, showing Atkins peacefully standing across a two-lane roadway from the homosexual pride festival.
The civil complaint alleges that Atkins’ constitutional rights were violated and the public comments by Tornielli were made “to further chill the speech of Americans who, as a redress of grievances, oppose what the City of Reading did to Atkins and people like him.”
The complaint further alleges that the City of Reading accords a “privileged status to the LGBTQ Pride movement, which privileged status equates any dissenting viewpoint from LGBTQ identity politics…as ‘derogatory comments,’ ‘insults’ and ‘hate speech’ which must be chilled and suppressed.”
The nine counts against the defendants listed in the complaint are First Amendment retaliation, Fourth Amendment retaliation, malicious prosecution (federal law), failure to train, defamation, false light, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution (Pennsylvania law), and assault and battery.
Atkins deserves major kudos for standing up to these petty tyrants.