I would like to tell you the story of my arrest last fall while handing out Christian/Creation literature on a public right of way adjacent to the property of Nicolet High School in Glendale, Wisconsin. The literature included information about dinosaurs and the Bible, Noah’s flood evidences, the Gospel and more.
I’ve done this at many school locations in Southeast Wisconsin and never been arrested. Principals sometimes need to be educated about first amendment rights, but I have never before had a ‘legal’ issue. I understand public vs private property and right of way usage and do not stand on school property while giving out literature. It usually takes less than 15 minutes to give out the literature to dozens of kids as they leave for home after school. Now and then a student wants to talk, which I gladly do! Once finished, I go home and keep the kids in prayer. I love doing this. Wisely, this is usually done in pairs and never alone for reasons you will soon understand.
Monday, October 31, 2016 was different. My friend and I never met up that afternoon. Neither of us had ever been to Nicolet High School before. She was on one side of the school giving out literature about God’s Word and abortion, while I was on the grassy area on the other side, giving out Biblical Creation materials.
I had given out a few pieces of literature when I was approached by the Vice Principal, who asked what I was doing. I gave him a copy and he looked at it. His response was, “You can’t hand that out on school property.” I told him I would be sure I was in the right of way and then moved right next to the road to meet kids. He was in contact with the female school police officer from the Glendale police department and he told her I was “not being cooperative and was refusing to leave.”
The female officer arrived, identified herself and asked what I was doing. I told her I was just giving kids literature and gave her a copy, too. She began to yell at me, telling me I could not be there. I knew I was in the right of way but did not want things to escalate so I offered to go across the street to the sidewalk next to the tunnel that goes under I43 and began to walk away. She again yelled at me, telling me, “Don’t you walk away from me!”, then said I was not allowed inside the tunnel because it was school proprety. I assured her I wanted to stay in plain view at all times and had no intenetion of entering the tunnel.
I had no ID on me, so she asked me for my name, which I gave her. I again wanted to leave, but she would not allow me to go. In fact, she kept telling me I would “get hit by a car,” even though there was a marked crosswalk and other students were crossing there. She never told me I was “trespassing” or where I could go instead. It was very awkward. I wanted to call my pastor to get some advice and told them so. But when I tried to use my phone, a detective who had driven to the scene grabbed my arm and told me I could not make a phone call.
I then became alarmed at how I was being treated and told the officers I wished to video record the interaction and tried to find the camera on my phone. It was at this time both my arms were grabbed and put behind me and I was told I was being arrested for trespassing. I was taken to the Glendale Police Department and “booked.” Yes, that’s correct. There were some students watching the whole thing. They must have been confused, too.
I found the police report to be very interesting. The officer’s report states I was in the “right of way” giving out literature. I don't understand the problem there. A right of way is just that, a right of way! She also wrote that I was impeding traffic and disrupting vehicles that were trying to leave the school parking lot, which the surveillence video clearly shows to be not true, and the judge himself presiding over the trial saw there was no impedement of traffic.
It was impossible to please this police officer, I just did not know what to do. I wish I had not been alone; I wish I had a camera rolling the entire time, but I did not. I will do so in the future. I am thankful for the school surveillence video. It clearly recorded the events, though from afar. In my trial, the judge saw the video and in his decision wrote that the video, “is the best evidence persented to the court. It does not leave the incident open to interpretation.” He dismissed the case. Praise the Lord.
There was more in the decision enhancing the verdict of “not guilty,” but I won’t bore you with everything!
Maybe I am wrong, but I can’t help but think that I was singled out partly because it is an anomoly to have Christians out in public testifying to God’s Word. Maybe if more Christians were practicing their faith in public, using their freedoms, these freedoms would be easier to hold on to. You see, the public uses the area where I was arrested all the time. I have seen people using the right of way and parking lot and tennis courts and they were not accosted by the police. Those activities are just the norm, but when a Christian is out there, some don’t like it and will try to stop it, as I experienced.
Freedom is not free. Whether it be your time, your money to defend yourself in a court of law, your church resources to be out of the church doing ministry, whatever your creative mind can come up with, we must work and pay to keep our freedoms fresh or they will erode away.
Today is the day to pledge our life, our fortunes and our sacred honor for freedom for our posterity, just as the founders of America did.