Jason Werner, a 28-year-old aspiring politician who has tried to unseat U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich twice, says he was arrested and handcuffed for preaching the Gospel on the busy streets of Cleveland.
Werner was cited for disorderly conduct Saturday by two police officers after the manager of the Blue Point Grille, a downtown restaurant, reported to police that customers had been complaining, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Werner gave his account on a personal website he previously used for his congressional campaign.
“The general manager of Blue Point told me and my friend, Doug Long, that the guests in his restaurant were complaining that they could hear us ‘yelling and screaming through
the windows,’ and the police were on their way,” he wrote.
Werner told the Plain Dealer his message was: “Any coward who supports abortion has the blood of babies on their hands. Live for Jesus Christ, and you’re guaranteed to go straight to heaven. Live for yourself, and you’ll go straight to hell.”
He explained that he approached the general manager of the restaurant to question him about the complaint, noting it would be nearly impossible for his customers to hear the men from inside the restaurant, which had double pane windows.
Regardless, two police officers showed up within minutes, Werner said.
The officers told the men to move to the other side of the street. Werner suggested if he did that there then would be grounds for a complaint, since a restaurant there had patrons eating outdoors.
Werner said an officer then grabbed him. Werner responded by telling the officer he would take a picture of him with his phone. At that point, the other officer grabbed Werner’s hand, causing the phone to be knocked away. He then was arrested.
The officers explained, “You are preaching and you did not listen to an officer when you were told to leave,” according to Werner.
The Cleveland paper reported Werner’s disorderly conduct ticket stated he was blocking the path of bystanders and telling people they were baby killers and were going to hell.
Police officials declined to comment on the arrest to the Plain Dealer, saying no complaint had been filed over it. Lt. Thomas Stacho said if a complaint is filed, it will be thoroughly investigated.
“What kind of country arrests someone for preaching Jesus Christ?” Werner later asked on his website.
Werner said he and his friends have been preaching in downtown Cleveland since 2000 and never before had altercations with police. In many cases, he said, police officers have thanked him for his efforts and were receptive to his preaching..