A Christian street preacher was arrested during a protest at a family-friendly drag event, which went viral on social media. The incident occurred at the city’s annual “Pride in the Park” event in Watertown, Wisconsin.
Protest at the Family-Friendly Event
Members of the Christian group Warriors for Christ were present at the event to evangelize and share their beliefs. In the video, one of the preachers, Marcus Schroeder, is seen reading from the Bible using a microphone when police officers surround him and take away his microphone and speaker. He was then handcuffed and arrested for allegedly violating a sound ordinance related to noise amplification.
Arrests of Young Christians
According to Jason Storms, a fellow member of the evangelical ministry who filmed the encounter, the police also arrested three other young people from their group who were praying and speaking to attendees. Storms claimed that the arrests were carried out on orders from city leaders.
The Arrested Youths Stand by Their Actions
Despite the arrests, the Christian youths involved expressed that they had no regrets and considered it an honor to stand for their beliefs. They stated that they were willing to endure the consequences for the sake of spreading their faith.
Claims of Violating Free Speech
The evangelical ministry members argued that their right to free speech was violated since Schroeder was preaching on a public sidewalk across from the event. They maintain that they were charged with “unlawful use of sound amplification” and resisting arrest.
Controversy Surrounding the Event
The Pride event, organized by the Unity Project of Watertown, included performances by drag artists and activities for children, which drew criticism from the Christian group. They alleged that the performances were inappropriate for children and accused parents of sexualizing them.
Backlash and Response
The arrest video received backlash on social media, but it did not gain significant attention in national media reports. The Christian ministry disassociated themselves from a separate group of neo-Nazis who disrupted the event, clarifying that they had no affiliation with them.
Overall, the incident has sparked debate over free speech rights and the boundaries of public demonstrations, as well as the cultural clashes surrounding events that celebrate LGBTQ+ pride.