No details as yet. The preacher was a certain Josh Williamson, of Operation513 ministries. I learned of the arrest via a tweet from Tony Miano, the US preacher arrested at Wimbledon for the same “offence”.
The Facebook post:
I was arrested for “Breach of Peace” in Perth, Scotland. I was told the content of my message is illegal. After putting me in the van, and taking me to the station they issued a verbal warning and released me.
They’ve said in future that if they have complaints they’ll go through the process all over again.
No details as yet. I shall write and ask the police for a statement.
This must be the 4th or 5th incident this year. It still seems astonishing to me, brought up in better days, that the police are systematically engaged in arresting street-preachers. It would have been unthinkable even 5 years ago.
I think the sooner that one of these cases is brought before a proper court the better.
UPDATE: Josh Williamson has now given an account of the incident. This is a strange one. The police received a “complaint”, apparently; but seem to have been quite unsure what, if any law, had been broken.
[The police officer] told me to stop, as I was breaking the law. I asked him what law I was breaking, and he replied that I was in breach of the peace. When I asked him to explain, he pointed to my mp3 recorder and said I was too loud. I pointed out to the officer that I wasn’t using amplification, but just my natural voice. I then asked him what a reasonable sound level would be. The police officer replied that the noise level isn’t the issue, but rather that a complaint had been made. I tried to reason with the officer, explaining that such argumentation is subjective as anyone can claim anything is too loud.
It was around this time I spoke to another officer who told me that I was being arrested. Again, I asked what law I had broken. It was at this point she told me that the content of my message was illegal. I found this amazing, since I was only preaching the Gospel. She also said people had accused me of swearing at those in the crowd. I pointed out that was a lie, and that I have an mp3 recording of the whole open-air.
After a few more minutes I was placed in the back of a police van. Behind me was the protesting man.
We were driven through the city centre of Perth to the police station. On arrival I was told to sit and wait. The police nicely left my Bible with me, so I was able to read from Psalm 37 as I waited.
They first dealt with the protest man, and then they took me into an interview room. The police began to speak, but I interrupted and asked that the interview be recorded and that I have my legal representative. They refused to allow this. As a result I used my right to silence.
Towards the end of my interview the officer said to me, “You seem reasonable. Why don’t you just stop preaching?” I replied by saying, “Let me ask you a question, is it better to obey man or God?”
With that the interview was over, and I was given a caution. The police also told me that if I preach again then we will go through the process all over again.
It would seem that the police have some questions to answer here. None of this seems normal or reasonable conduct by the police. What on earth is really going on here?
I can only infer that Someone Important complained; someone far more important than a couple of bobbies, and the latter were so scared that they ignored any normal procedure or process. In which case … who precisely complained?
I have written and enquired myself: but my query has not been acknowledged.
Something smells about all this. We’re not getting the whole story here, that’s quite obvious to me.
UPDATE: It seems that Williamson has had difficulties before; that time from Moslem hecklers. John Knox must be revolving in his grave!
UPDATE (19th September 2013): The police have replied as follows:
“Due a number of complaints from members of the public about the noise being made an individual in Perth’s High Street yesterday, a man was asked to attend at Perth Police Station where he was spoken to. He was issued with a warning.”
Hmm. “Asked to attend”? In a police van? I will enquire whether Mr Williamson agrees with this statement.
UPDATE: He says that he has a recording of the whole conversation, in which the police state repeatedly that they are arresting him. The matter is in the hands of Christian Concern.
UPDATE (23rd September 2013): On Saturday 21st September the following appeared on Twitter:
“I met some friends who were handing out literature and preaching,” said Mr Williamson. “I got up and a handful of minutes later the police came across and stopped me.
“They said they had received a complaint and it was a breach of the peace as I had upset people with what I was saying.”
Mr Williamson said that at the time he was preaching that Jesus Christ had come into the world to save sinners.
He says that the two officers told his friends not to film the incident and following a discussion about his actions he was “manhandled” into a police car and taken to Perth police station and detained for five and a half hours.
He understands the evidence is being evaluated to see if he will face charges. Police Scotland’s Dundee control said they weren’t in a position to comment on Mr Williamson’s version of events.
What is going on?