(SM Chavey, Liberty Headlines) While street-preacher Ron Cardiel was evangelizing the Christian gospel in Las Vegas in March, police officers cited him for “obstructing” the sidewalk. He faced a $1000 fine and/or up to six months in prison. On Friday, the charges were dismissed.
Cardiel, known as “Brother Ron,” lives in Washington state but frequents Las Vegas to preach, particularly on the Las Vegas Strip.
On March 14, he was addressing passersby on the quad of Santa Ana College when campus security officers approached him and asked him to lower his voice and leave. Cardiel refused. Security threatened to call the police, and Cardiel told them to go ahead. Police arrived and cited him for a misdemeanor.
“What he was saying had no concern to us, whatsoever. Only the fact that he was loud,” District Safety and Security Supervisor James Wooley told the college’s newspaper El Don in March.
Students told El Don they didn’t like the preaching (one called the dialogue “hate speech”), but most acknowledged his right to be there.
“I understand he has freedom of religion, but it was annoying,” Desiree Bennett, a student who witnessed the incident, told El Don.
The charges against Cardiel were not for noise, however, but for obstruction.
A Clark County ordinance prohibits obstruction of the sidewalk. Cardiel was not actually standing directly on the sidewalk, but because he was standing rather than moving, officers told him to move along. He refused, citing his First Amendment rights, and an officer cited him for a misdemeanor.
“Pedestrians freely moved past him with ease, rarely if ever needing to sidestep around him,” the Pacific Justice Institute, which defended Cardiel, said in a statement.
Pacific Justice Institute attorneys claimed the ordinance was “unconstitutionally vague and overbroad” because it didn’t define what constitutes ‘obstruction.’ The officers enforced it in an “arbitrary and discriminatory fashion,” the statement said.
The institute submitted a motion for the case to be dismissed, and the request was granted soon after the case was called, according to the statement.
“What happened to Brother Ron was beyond ridiculous,” Pacific Justice Institute President Brad Dacus said in a statement. “The last time I checked, the First Amendment still protects the freedom of individuals to share their faith in public. PJI exists in part to defend that right, and I’m glad the Clark County D.A. had the good sense to dismiss Brother Ron’s case because he never should have been charged in the first place.”
Several other street preachers have been arrested for their actions on the Las Vegas Strip. They’ve had a variety of charges and outcomes.Click here for reuse options!
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