A street preacher has been arrested in London, sparking outrage online. In a video of the incident posted to Twitter, officers can be seen forcefully asking the African man to stop, before arresting him on a rather baffling charge of “breaching the peace.”
“What are you doing here?” the officer asked the preacher, who was heralding the Gospel near Southgate Underground station in London.
“I am preaching,” he simply replied.
“I am going to require you to go away,” the police officer stated.
“Never,” the man responded.
“Well then, then I will arrest you for a breach of peace,” the police said.
“What breach of peace?” asked the Christian man.
“It’s what you’re doing at the moment,” the policeman explained. “You’re causing problems — you’re disturbing people’s days and you’re breaching their peace. If you won’t go away voluntarily, we will have to arrest you.”
“I will not go away, because I need to tell them the truth — because Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life,” the preacher responded.
“But nobody wants to listen to that,” the officer snapped back. “They want you to go away.”
At this point, the officer handcuffs the man, before an additional officer snatches his Bible out of his hands.
“Don’t take my Bible away,” the man cried.
“You should have thought about that before being racist!” the officer replied.
Faithwire reached out to the Metropolitan Police for more information surrounding the incident. The police admitted that, despite the officer’s comments accusing the preacher of being “racist,” nothing of this nature had been said by the Christian man. They also noted that “no language of this nature was used in the presence of officers.”
“The initial report suggested some Islamophobic language had been used,” the police force told Faithwire. “However nobody has made a formal allegation to this effect and no language of this nature was used in the presence of officers.”
This afternoon an African Christian preacher was arrested in London for preaching about Jesus Christ. This is very sad to see. What happened to freedom of speech? pic.twitter.com/BId74SOgun
— Obianuju Ekeocha (@obianuju) February 23, 2019
As for the arrest itself, the police confirmed that this was made on account of the man “breaching the peace.”
“An arrest was made to prevent a breach of the peace,” the police noted, adding, “The man was then de-arrested and no further action was necessary.”
Many have called on the police to apologize for the incident. Christians and atheists alike have expressed their outrage at the incident. Anglican clergyman and former chaplain to the Queen, Rev. Dr. Gavin Ashenden, was one of those to speak out.
“The police have closed down freedom of speech and become Christianophobic,” he wrote on Twitter. “If we fail to protest we will lose our freedom under the law.”
Ashenden, who is not afraid to speak his mind, then called on the Archbishop of Canterbury to pledge his support to the preacher.
“Perhaps the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Church of England bishops might like to protest in favour of the poor and marginalised Street preacher at the hands of policeman who neither know nor apply the law?” he questioned. “Or do they just do socialist economics?”
Last time I looked freedom of peacefull assembly & freedom of speech were fundamental rights in the UK. Since when has preaching become a breach of the peace?
— Kilsally (Alan Day) (@Kilsally) February 24, 2019
This is deeply deeply concerning. The way his bible was removed is horrendous. These officers should be ashamed of themselves for the way they dealt with this. https://t.co/apzj9HXKOf
— Father Matthew (@matthewcashmore) February 24, 2019
Christian and pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha posted this astonishing side by side video of the arrest, juxtaposing it next to how UK police reacted to an upset Muslim preacher shouting Allahu Akbar:
The internet is a glorious invention!!!
Watch this video that was put together by @LeaveEUOfficial. See how the UK police treat Muslim preacher vs how they treated our Christian preacher.
Dear @metpoliceuk pls be better.
— Obianuju Ekeocha (@obianuju) February 24, 2019
According to UK-based religious freedom pressure group Christian Concern, the preacher, whose name is reported to be “Olu,” was “was dropped off in an unfamiliar suburb without enough money to get home” following his arrest.
“Thankfully, a kind member of the public gave him some money, but what did the preacher do next?” the group’s Facebook post continued. “He went straight back to Southgate tube station and continued to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ that same evening.””