Homosexual “OutFest” organizers in Philadelphia announced plans in advance of their October 2004 street festival to block Christians from access to the publicly sponsored event where 11 members of Repent America were arrested, five being charged with a series of misdemeanors and felonies that could put them in jail for 47 years.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the group was “preaching God’s Word” to a crowd of people attending the Oct. 10, 2004, event and displaying banners with biblical messages.
After a confrontation with a group called the Pink Angels, described by protesters as “a militant mob of homosexuals,” the 11 Christians, members of Repent America, were arrested and taken into custody.
Eight charges were filed: criminal conspiracy, possession of instruments of crime, reckless endangerment of another person, ethnic intimidation, riot, failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and obstructing highways.
None of the Pink Angels were cited or arrested.
After a preliminary hearing in December, Judge William Austin Meehan ordered four of the adult Christians to stand trial on three felony and five misdemeanor charges. If convicted, they could get a maximum of 47 years in prison. A fifth juvenile has been ordered to stand trial in the juvenile justice system facing the same eight counts.
But, according to an article in the Philadelphia Gay News days before the street festival, homosexual organizers were planning to block Christians from access to the event.
Chuck Volz, senior adviser to Philly Pride Presents, told the publication the Pink Angels security force would carry large signs alongside the Christians to surround them and block their access to OutFest participants.
“We’ll have a pink wall around them,” he said. “Hopefully, they will be so frustrated they won’t come again. Talking to a piece of Styrofoam is not the same as talking to a crowd of people.”
Volz also made clear that “diversity” was not the goal of the street festival.
“It’s our event, and we’re not going to permit vendors or community groups that conflict with the theme of the event,” he said. He said welcoming Christians to the street festival would be analogous to a black event welcoming white supremacists.
Police said they would have cordoned off the permitted area for OutFest, preventing protesters from attending, had event organizers obtained an injunction from a judge. But OutFest organizers did not get an injunction.
Dan Anders, an attorney for Philly Pride Presents, said: “Our position is that they are not welcome to attend, they haven’t been invited to attend, and we would rather that they protest the event from outside the permitted area.”
Volz admitted in the report that OutFest organizers didn’t have a leg to stand on in keeping out people exercising their First Amendment rights in a public venue.
“Given the parameters of the First Amendment, there’s no way to keep them out,” he said. “I think the gay community should understand that the gay-rights movement has succeeded because people are permitted free speech under the First Amendment. We can’t be in a position of denying people the right to compete with us in the marketplace of ideas.”
“This is one of the most remarkable and unlawful actions by police that I have ever witnessed,” said Michael Marcavage, director of Repent America. “Their blatant disregard of the law by allowing hecklers to impede our way, block our message and then arrest us, is inexcusable, especially by police officers who are specially trained to protect civil rights.
“Christians are now being labeled as ‘haters’ and any speech that homosexuals perceive to be intimidating, such as our Christian witness at OutFest, makes them a prime target for ‘hate crimes legislation.’”
Continued Marcavage: “We are clearly ‘not guilty’ of these crimes, and with the help of our video footage, we shall be vindicated of these trumped-up charges.”