Links on the Wimbledon preacher arrest

The BBC has chosen to ignore the story of how a street preacher was sworn at by a woman and then arrested, for daring to mention homosexuality among a number of sins (see here and here and here).  Others have not. Cranmer broke the story, and the Daily Telegraph ran with it.  A few more links.

The Huffington Post (UK) gives couple more details, which actually sound even more sinister:

According to the Christian Legal Centre which is representing Miano, he was offered a £90 fine to secure his release, but after being interviewed with a solicitor present, the police told him they would seek prosecution because he said he believed his remarks were “100%” acceptable” and that he planned to say them again.

This explains, then, why they kept him in a cell for seven hours.  They were hoping to get him to admit the “offence” and pay a fine, for his temerity.

Cranmer’s Curate makes the point that a tough ex-police-officer like Miano was far better equipped to push back at such nonsense than most of us would be.

There are also stories at Opposing Views, Christian Today, Christian Post, The Christian Institute, Canada Free Press, Charisma News, Cross Map, and others.

On the other hand we have this from Pink News, Homophobic street preacher arrested in London, and Gay Star News, Wimbledon tennis preacher arrested for gay hate.  The comments in both are pretty vile.

UPDATE, 6th July 2013: Not part of the same story … or may be it is: Christian preachers brutally beaten at Gay Pride Festival.


Police statement on arrest of street preacher in Wimbledon

Further to this and this, I have now received confirmation of the basic details of the story from the police at Wimbledon.  My enquiry was as follows:

I read online a report that the police arrested a street preacher and held him for seven hours while quizzing him on his beliefs.  According to the report the reason given was that, in preaching about sin (which he was against), he mentioned homosexuality.  The report and a video may be found at the Archbishop Cranmer site.

May I ask whether the report is correct?  Is there a press release on this incident?

I received the following answer:

Police were called to Wimbledon Hill Road, SW19, at approximately 16.30hrs on Monday, 1 July, following reports of a man speaking through a public address system who was alleged to have made homophobic comments.

Officers attended and arrested the man, aged 49, on suspicion of offences under the Public Order Act.

He was taken to a south-west London police station and spoken to by officers before being released with no further action later the same day.

This more or less confirms all the statements made by the victim Tony Miano.

UPDATE: Cranmer has now posted the full transcript of the police interrogation here, which began four hours after his arrest, at eight minutes past nine at night, and concluded half an hour later.  In one respect it doesn’t quite confirm what Miano said, but, quite frankly, considering that he was grilled without having a record himself around 14 hours after he got up, we can forgive the lapse of memory.

The transcript reads like something out of the 17th century.  There is no question of the accused having done anything; it is what he thinks that is being questioned.  And this, in a free state, is unacceptable.


More on the arrest of the street preacher at Wimbledon

Further to yesterday’s post:

I learn from the comments at the Cranmer blog that the incident took place on Monday 1st July.

I have had no reply to my enquiry to Wimbledon Police Station.

The Daily Telegraph has today run the story, Christian arrested for calling homosexuality a ‘sin’.

A Christian street preacher has been arrested and questioned about his beliefs after saying that “fornication” and homosexuality are a sin.

Tony Miano, a retired police officer from the US, was held for almost seven hours, forced to give finger prints and a DNA sample and questioned about his beliefs on sin.

Mr Miano, who served as a Deputy Sherriff in Los Angeles County, was arrested under the controversial clause of the Public Order Act, recently amended by the House of Lords, which bans “insulting” words or behaviour.

In a video placed on YouTube he can be seen debating with two Metropolitan Police officers about whether the amendment to the law had come into force yet.

It came after a woman complained that the sermon he preached a sermon in busy street in Wimbledon, south west London, on Monday afternoon, about “lust” and “sexual immorality”, was homophobic.

Taking as his text a passage from Thessalonians, he listed homosexuality alongside other “evil” sexual temptations as being against “God’s law”.

He can be heard saying: “My friends, the reality is, we are all going to stand before God to give account for our lives.

“And whether our sin is sexual in nature or not, if we have violated his law in any way – whether it is homosexuality, whether it is refusing to abstain from evil in the heterosexual community and we are lusting after people we are indulging in fornication, but even beyond that if we have so much as told one lie – God sees us as a violator of his law, God does not see us as good.”

He said that during his time at the police station he was questioned about his beliefs.

“He asked me, among other things, whether I believed homosexuality was a sin,” he explained.

“He also asked me: ‘If a homosexual person came to you and was hungry, would you give him something to eat?’

“It was unnerving to be questioned about my Christian beliefs and I was made to feel that my thoughts could be held against me.

“The two final questions were: ‘Do you believe you are 100 per cent right in what you did today?’, I answered yes, and “If you were to go back there tomorrow, would you do the same thing again?” to which I also answered yes.”

He was eventually released without charge around midnight.

There could be no charge, of course, for he had done nothing wrong.  The “arrest”, and the deliberately prolonged incarceration and “questioning” were merely harassment, intended to intimidate.  The phrase “the process is the punishment” describes what happened here; drag someone through the system in order to stop them doing something which is entirely legal.  Even if they are found innocent, just being accused and tried — at deliberately elaborate length — is a shattering experience for normal, innocent people.

I gather that Tony Miano has sought legal advice.  I hope that the Metropolitan Police are forced to pay a large sum in damages.  I also would hope that whoever was responsible for this is discharged from the force.