‘We must be able to peacefully disagree and voice our concerns in public places without fear of arrest and prosecution…’
(Brian Freimuth, Liberty Headlines) The Pacific Justice Institute, will provide legal representation for a pastor who was arrested while observing a Drag Queen Story Hour event in Spokane, Washington.
On June 15, pastor Afhsin Yaghtin was arrested outside of a Drag Queen Story Hour event at a public library in Spokane Washington.
A video Yaghtin uploaded to social media shortly after his arrest reveals that police charged him with obstruction of a police officer before taking him to jail.
Eyewitness accounts given in the Spokesman-Review reveal that the police had stationed about 40 officers around the public library during the Drag Queen Story Hour Event.
The police also required protestors to stand on the side of the street opposite the library but allowed counter-protestors who supported the event to stand right outside the library.
Eyewitnesses estimated that there were about 200 protestors and 400 supporters for the event. Witnesses on both sides reported seeing men, possibly snipers, in camouflage stationed on the roof of the library.
Yaghtin approached a line of about 10 officers outside of the library. When the officers stopped him from getting any closer, the pastor asked why. Yaghtin was not carrying any signs and did not appear to be protesting. After a short dialogue, the police arrested the pastor.
“What’s the charge,” asked a man filming the police as they cuffed Yaghtin.
“You’re obstructing,” one police officer responded. “[You’re obstructing] this event and our duty to provide security.”
Some who came in support of the event carried provocative signs that mocked the Christian faith of the protestors. Some dressed as angels and carried signs bearing cartoonish depictions Jesus reading to children, likening the cross-dressing men inside the library to Christ.
In a press release, Brad Dacus, one of PJI’s attorneys, stated that Yaghtin’s case is not an isolated incident and that police have been arresting conservatives across the country for protesting LGBT events during June’s “pride month” festivities.
“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 stated
“This arrest in Spokane is one of the clearest examples yet of viewpoint discrimination, and we will be vigorously contesting the charges,” he said. “We must be able to peacefully disagree and voice our concerns in public places without fear of arrest and prosecution based on viewpoint.”
PJI is a nonprofit, pro-bono legal defense organization specializing in defending religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties nationwide, though it mostly takes clients from the Pacific region.