A pastor in Washington state who wanted to observe a “drag queen” stunt being staged by his local public library was arrested, thrown in the back of a police van and held there for hours.
Now the Pacific Justice Institute is working to get the charges tossed.
PJI already has done that in other cases in which pastors or evangelists have been shut down by police while exercising their First Amendment rights.
In the latest incident, Afshin Yaghtin, according to PJI, went to a public library in Spokane, Washington, on June 15 to observe a “Drag Queen Story Hour.”
He arrived a couple of hours before the event, and instead of being allowed into the public facility was stopped by police.
He carried no signs, didn’t preach and didn’t even consider himself a protester, but officers ordered him off the public property. PJI said he was told to “go across the street with everyone else who the police deemed not to be supportive of the event.”
The police presence was significant, with snipers even staged at strategic points, PJI said.
When Yaghtin “asserted his First Amendment rights” police arrested him.
“He was handcuffed and thrown in the back of a police van for several hours,” PJI said.
But “while the police were ordering Yaghtin and others concerned about DQSH to leave or go across the street, they allowed supporters of the drag queens to surround and enter the library. Some of the event supporters carried provocative signs depicting Jesus in a dress reading to children. Other supporters dressed like angels with oversized wings,” said PJI.
After he bailed out, Yaghtin connected with PJI, which began working on his case.
Earlier this year, PJI founder and president Brad Dacus secured dismissal of criminal charges against an evangelist in El Paso, Texas, who had been prosecuted for preaching outside a drag queen show.
“The number of criminal charges being filed against pastors and evangelists across the country in just the last few years should be alarming to every freedom-loving American,” Dacus said.
“This arrest in Spokane is one of the clearest examples yet of viewpoint discrimination, and we will be vigorously contesting the charges. We must be able to peacefully disagree and voice our concerns in public places without fear of arrest and prosecution based on viewpoint.”
Drag queen events across the nation are becoming increasingly confrontational.
WND reported Monday a library in Renton, Washington, went beyond its drag queen story time, staging a “pride celebration” that offered to teens “free lunch and dinner! Fun crafts! Loads of activities! Open mic! Karaoke! Advice panels, Safer sex presentations! A drag show! Free swag!”
Some parents found out, however, and showed up and started asking questions.
The library reacted by calling police to remove the parents.
Todd Starnes interviewed some of the parents on his radio program to find out what the library was up to.
He found that the library managers would rather call police and have parents removed from the public property than answer their questions about the sex toys being handed out to tweens and teens.
The library, which passed out free condoms and lubricant, held a raffle for “chest binders,” which are used by girls who believe they are boys to bind their breasts.
“A number of concerned citizens showed up at the King’s County library wondering what in the name of Dewey Decimal was going on,” he explained. “But when the parents started asking questions, librarians called the police and the concerned citizens were physically removed from the property.”
Starnes said “taxpayers should be absolutely concerned about what is going on between the stacks behind closed doors.”
A drag queen event in Ohio was canceled when the speaker of the state House of Representatives called out the “stunningly bizarre” idea.
It was the public library in Licking County that dropped the event after House Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican, wrote the Ohio Library Council about it. Aimed at teenagers, it featured “a tutorial on applying makeup for dressing drag and a guide to safe sex.”
But other events already have taken place in Beloit, Wisconsin; Long Beach, California; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Houston. There, a library hired convicted child-sex offender to read books to children.