Rep. Dave Zimmerman (R-Lancaster/Berks) released a statement Friday denouncing the “shameful police action” that took place in Reading, Pennsylvania.
“This shameful arrest of Mr. Atkins was a disgraceful violation of his constitutional rights and is an abuse of justice,” Zimmerman said in the statement. “The 1st Amendment guarantees the unalienable rights given to us by God and Mr. Atkins was denied these rights.”
As reported by The Lancaster Patriot, Damon Atkins was placed in handcuffs and arrested by Reading police officer Bradley McClure for quoting the Bible on a public sidewalk across the street from a homosexual pride rally.
Atkins was arrested at approximately 10:05 a.m. on June 3.
According to a document provided to The Lancaster Patriot, Atkins was taken into custody and held for several hours before being released on an unsecured bail of $5,000.00.
Another document provided to The Lancaster Patriot revealed that Atkins was kept in custody until the pride rally at City Hall was completed. The document shows a time of 2:05 p.m. and the release conditions listed as “No events at City Hall anymore (6-3-23) today.”
A preliminary hearing was initially scheduled for June 16.
However, on June 7 the Berks County District Attorney’s Office released a statement saying that the charges were withdrawn “after the District Attorney’s Office reviewed the videos of the incident along with applicable case law.”
Following the incident, Reading Mayor Eddie Moran and Reading Chief of Police Richard Tornielli issued statements supporting the decision of McClure to arrest Atkins.
“Our officers gave him warnings to cease that behavior as it was disrupting the event that was taking place,” Tornielli told 69 News.
Atkins told The Lancaster Patriot that he recently listened to the entire Bible with the BibleGateway app, and it changed his life. He now spends several days a week street preaching and sharing the message of the Bible with others.
Zimmerman expressed his gratitude that the criminal charges against Atkins were dropped but said the “grievous violations of constitutional rights have already been committed.”
Zimmerman said the “unlawful arrest could open up the City of Reading and their police department to legal action in the future.”
“Such disgraceful arrests must never be repeated.”