A viral Watertown police video appears to show officers handcuffing a Christian youth and grabbing his microphone as he recited the Bible on a public sidewalk. Based on the video, it appears that police objected to sound amplification.
A man named Tony shared the video on Twitter, writing, “🚨BREAKING: Young man arrested for sharing the Bible on a public sidewalk. Blatant violation of the 1st amendment of The Constitution. Every one of those cops should be fired and sued.”
🚨BREAKING: Young man arrested for sharing the Bible on a public sidewalk
Blatant violation of the 1st amendment of The Constitution. Every one of those cops should be fired and sued. pic.twitter.com/ef8zBXSf5c
— TONY™️ (@TONYxTWO) August 1, 2023
Watertown does have an ordinance that states, “amplified music permit,” but then reads, “No public address systems or sound amplification devices shall be used in any public park or public recreation area” without a permit.
An article in Republic Sentinel identified the handcuffed street preacher as Marcus Schroeder and said they were near the Pride in the Park drag show event that drew controversy when a group of neo-Nazis showed up. The neo-Nazis were not arrested; the Christian youth have nothing to do with them, Republic Sentinel reported.
The article, by Ben Zeisloft, also says a second Christian youth was detained: “Nick Proell, another young Christian, was detained and removed from the venue but later released with a warning.” According to Zeisloft, the video was filmed by a man named Jason Storms. “It was worth it,” the article quotes Schroeder as saying. “It’s actually an honor to be counted worthy to stand with the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us and been arrested for the sake of spreading Christ and his kingdom.”
Storms told the Republic Sentinel that the young people attend Mercy Seat Christian Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin. The church holds services at the Embassy Suites. WRN has contacted the church asking to speak with Storms and Schroeder. The Republic Sentinel is a conservative news site; it is not clear where it is based, but it reports news from around the country.
“The police, per orders from city leaders, arrested several young people. Three were arrested earlier in the day while inside the park praying and talking to attendees, and then released with warnings,” said Storms, minister of evangelism at Mercy Seat Christian Church, to Republic Sentinel. “It was open to the public, thus the public’s right to free speech carries with them. One was arrested later in the day for preaching on the public sidewalk outside the venue and is being charged with unlawful use of sound amplification and resisting arrest.”
Wisconsin Right Now has contacted Watertown’s police chief, Robert Kaminski, for more details. We have also asked for any reports and for the number of arrests made in association with the Pride in the Park drag event and the reasons for them. We asked him about public perceptions that neo-Nazis who shouted vile comments at people were not treated similarly. We will add any response into this story if received. We also filed an open records request with Kaminski for any reports relating to arrests associated with Pride in the Park.
In the video, the young man, who is wearing a “Warriors for Christ” shirt, is using a microphone to broadcast, “You should love your neighbor as yourself,” when an uniformed police officer walks up behind him, and a second officer grabs his microphone.
At one point, they were both holding on to the microphone. “What is the problem here?” a man asked. “You didn’t give any warning, you just grabbed the mic” and “Hey, what are you doing?”
The officer says something to the effect of, “No, this is the same one that we had in here before” and appears to say, “You can speak but there’s no amplified mics” or amplification.
Another man challenges the officer, saying, “He has every right to be out here engaging in speech” and “How come there’s no amplification?” There is reference made to an amplified sound ordinance.
Multiple officers then surrounded the man with the mic, appeared to handcuff him, and they all walk away.
An image shows the back of the youth’s T shirt read, “I will stand for truth even if I stand alone.”
The Republic Sentinel article, by Ben Zeisloft, says, “Police arrested and detained several young people in Watertown, Wisconsin, on Saturday while they were preaching the gospel at a public drag queen event targeted toward children.”
Other video circulated showing a drag performing performing for kids at the Pride in the Park event.
Obtained this video of a drag queen performing sexually for children at the event in Watertown, Wisconsin.
Even though presenting children with sexually explicit content is illegal in Wisconsin, police instead chose to arrest Christians preaching the gospel. pic.twitter.com/1bR6Yc08Vw
— Ben Zeisloft (@BenZeisloft) August 1, 2023
NBC15 reported that, shortly after 10 a.m. this past Saturday “a neo-Nazi group arrived in all black waving flags with swastikas.”
“The police lined themselves up. Shoulder to shoulder right in front of them on our side of the barricade,” group organizer Julie Janowak said to NBC15. “The police were there, and they and they did kind of come out right away.”
According to WISN-TV, referring to the neo-Nazi group, “Protesters dressed in black, wearing full facemasks arrived waving black and white swastika flags and in at least one case, carrying a rifle.”
One participant told WISN that the Nazis shouted, “It’s us or the pedophiles. There will be bloodshed. They need to hang” but did not breach the police line separating them from the Pride in the Park participants.
— GAG Wisconsin (@GAG_Wisconsin) July 29, 2023
The “Pride in the Park” event in Watertown advertised drag story time, a kids’ dance party, and drag shows.