Charges were dropped against a self-professing Christian “street preacher” who was arrested while citing the Bible in protest of an LGBTQ Pride event in Reading, Pennsylvania, authorities said.
Damon Atkins was arrested June 6 for “disorderly conduct, engaged in fighting,” but the charges were dropped after an official review of video evidence, the Berks County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release.
“The charges were withdrawn after the District Attorney’s Office reviewed the videos of the incident along with applicable case law,” the statement said.
Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach had told the Lancaster Patriot that he believed the arrest of Atkins was “unlawful” and “could open the City of Reading and their police department to legal action.”
A video of Atkins’ encounter with the police officer and his arrest was caught on video by Matthew Wear, a resident of the Pennsylvania city.
“This is public property,” Atkins said in an exchange with McClure, who agreed.
Atkins later shouted, “God cares!” the video shows.
“Let them have their day,” McClure replied, according to the footage.
The officer tells the street preacher he should respect attendees. Atkins held a sign that said “Jesus said go and sin no more.”
“Oh, I’m respecting,” Atkins replied while pointing to his sign.
After Atkins is told to respect the attendees again, he asks the officer, “You know who’s cheering for us?”
“The people that are in hell,” Atkins said, according to the video. “So, you do you, and I’m going to do me.”
McClure briefly walks away, the video shows, but he looks back at Atkins, who then begins to cite a Bible verse.
“That’s it, you’re done,” the officer says and walks over to handcuff him.
Atkins is seen handing over his sign to a fellow protester and is told he cannot give his bag to another man, the video shows. Attendees of the Pride event appear to applaud the arrest.
“I cannot believe I’m watching this,” Wear said on camera.
“God is not the author of …” Atkins shouted but was cut off a second time as McClure escorted him away.
Atkins was reportedly trying to cite 1 Corinthians 14:33: “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”
The officer wrote in an affidavit in the police complaint that Atkins allegedly “began to yell to the people at the event” and McClure “immediately 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. Atkins said he understood.”
McClure added that “less than a minute later he resumed yelling derogatory comments to the people at the event. Because I had already given him a warning, I immediately told him he was being arrested for disorderly conduct.”
An officer from the Reading Police Department told Fox News Digital that there was a “good hour interaction” between Atkins and the officer before the video was taken and that “there’s more to the story here.”
In an interview with CBN News following the Pride march and arrest, Atkins said his comment about people cheering them on from hell was in reference to a parable that Jesus tells in Luke 16:19-31, which is a story about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus.
He ended the interview by thanking those who have supported him and expressed that he was anxious for what had occurred.
“I don’t want anyone to think – please don’t think that I hate anyone,” he said in the interview. “I love my neighbor as Lord Jesus has taught me to love myself. That’s why I was there.”