Police Brutality Towards Christians

by Michael Marcavage

       On Thursday, October 31, 2002, Halloween night, the Lord called me to preach and hand out Gospel tracts on South Street in Philadelphia, PA. As I open air preached on the street corner of 4th and South, a police officer approached me. He told me that I "cannot be doing this". I asked him what I was doing that was causing a problem. He said that "it" just isn't appropriate. I then asked him if there would be a more appropriate place for me to preach. I received no response. I volunteered to move to the other side of the street. The officer agreed that that would be a more appropriate place. I then crossed the street and began again. I preached (without amplification) and handed out Gospel tracts. Because of the cold air and noise from local bars, passing vehicles, etc. I decided to use my megaphone. As I preached using the sound amplification device on the corner of 5th and South, I was approached by two police officers. I was told that I could not use the sound amplification equipment because there was an ordinance in Philadelphia that prohibits its use only on South Street in Philadelphia. I volunteered to turn it down. One of the police officers told me that it is not permitted at all. I agreed to stop using the megaphone. After I stopped using the megaphone, I continued to pass out Gospel tracts while researching the details of the ordinance through a research company that I subscribe to called Pronto. I asked the people at Pronto to find out any information pertaining to an ordinance prohibiting the use of sound equipment on South Street in Philadelphia or any ordinance at all banning the use of sound equipment in Philadelphia. I was called back by Pronto and told that there are no known ordinances prohibiting their use in the Philadelphia City code. I had another person at Pronto review the Philadelphia City code carefully and that person returned the same results. At this point, I called the Philadelphia Police Department and asked them where the law prohibits the use of sound amplification equipment on South Street. I was told they would send a supervisor to my location and that person would be able to provide me with the information I requested. The supervisor who arrived was the same individual who had originally told me that I could not use the megaphone. He was sitting in his police cruiser, and I asked him if he could tell me where in the law there is a ban on sound amplification equipment on South Street. He then told me that he is not going to provide me with the information I requested. I asked him why. He then got out of his police cruiser and aggressively moved toward me. He started to point in my face and told me that if I used the megaphone again, he would lock me up. I kindly asked him what law I would be breaking if I did so. He then began to yell at me and told me I had to move because I cannot stand on the sidewalk. Also a friend of mine had stopped by on her bike and was listening to the conversation. He told her that she cannot remain on the sidewalk with her bike. He then drove off. I prayed about what to do at this point and wholeheartedly believed that God had called me to South Street this Halloween night to preach His Word.

I went back down to the street corner of 4th and South and began to preach once again with the megaphone in front of Pomodoro Bar and Pizza. The megaphone was turned down low and it was no louder than the music and noise coming from the bar behind me. As I began to preach, three officers came up to me. I told them that God has called me to preach tonight. As I continued, a male officer placed his hands upon mine and pushed my hands downward to stop me from holding the megaphone's handset. As my hands were pushed down, two female police officers pulled me from each side. I fell to the ground. Handcuffs were placed upon me immediately. From that point, I was pushed, pulled, and dragged around on the ground. They dragged me across the street by my arms, which was very painful. They pulled my arms backward behind me and I screamed out in anguish. The police officer with whom I had originally spoken with was now present and very angry. While in handcuffs, he bent my left-hand as far as he could towards my wrist to purposefully inflict pain. They then attempted to lift me up and force me head first into the back of a police car. When they could not easily force me into the police car I was then dropped back down onto the street. The two male and two female officers then dragged me across the sidewalk and threw me up against a storefront glass window. One of the officers pushed my head into the glass, while another demanded information and ID. I gave them my name, address, etc. Then they demanded that I give them my social security number. I refused. My head was then slammed into the glass window again. They then asked me how they could be sure I am who I claim to be. I told them that I am who I say I am. One of the officers told the officer demanding the social security number to lay off, that they can get it through other means. I was then placed into a police car and taken away. At no point was I told where I was going, why I was being arrested, or read any of my rights.

I ended up at a police station and handcuffed to some handrails. While I sat inside the police station, a female officer began the process of entering information into a computer system. I waited there and was then called over to sign an electronic pad attached to the computer. I was not able to see anything on the computer screen, but was told to sign the electronic pad. I signed "Refused". When the female officer viewed the form there was discussion amongst them. I was then told that if I did not sign my name the charges would be "upgraded" to a misdemeanor. I told them that I was not comfortable in signing something that I could not read and thereby having my signature stored in the computer. I was then angrily threatened that if I did not sign I would be locked up, fingerprinted, have mug shots taken, and a permanent record, etc. I then told them that I would be willing to sign if I could put a note under my signature stating, "did not desire to sign". They continued to pressure me into signing. I told them that I had already made my decision.

At that point, the (ordinance) officer was still angry and told them to begin the upgrade. At this point they began to add other charges to the complaint. Speaking to the officer filling out the paperwork for the upgrade, the female officer said to him that if I am not going to sign they might as well get me for other things. She said to the officer doing the upgrade that he should add "…handing out handbills" to the charges since Gospel tracts were found on me. At that point, she was looking through a manual and told me that handing out Gospel tracts without a permit is illegal. She then went into a story about how there is a man who hands out Gospel tracts on one of the corners she covers and that she could arrest him at any point, but she has not done so because he is a nice man. At some point, she also told me that disorderly conduct is the ordinance that generally prohibits the use of sound amplification equipment. However there is no specific ordinance prohibiting its use. The officers talked about getting a wagon several times while I was waiting. Just before the wagon arrived the (ordinance) officer became verbally abusive and called me stupid and mocked God. The two officers (one male/one female) entered the police station and were greeted by the (ordinance) officer. One of the entering officers asked about why I was being taken off and then asked me why I didn't sign. The (ordinance) officer said sarcastically "God told him not to sign".

I was then escorted in handcuffs out of the police station and placed into the back of a police wagon. I noticed blood on the inside walls of the wagon- in the areas where handcuffed hands would be resting. I was then driven for about 15 minutes to some type of building entrance, taken out, and placed with other officers in the building. I was then told to take my shoelaces off, belt, jacket, etc. They asked me for some basic information. I was then placed in a cell. The cell was small with a metal slab to sit on. I waited in the cell until I was brought out again moments later for them to take a handprint. The officer then had me sign it and I was then given some kind of chemical to wash the ink off my hand in a nearby sink. I was given a sandwich with two pieces of cheese and ice tea and placed in a small cell. The metal door was locked behind me. I spent several hours in the cell and was brought out again to an electronic fingerprint machine. The officer took fingerprints of all of my fingers. Another officer then took my mug shots, and I was then taken back to the same cell. Many more hours passed. The metal door opened again and I was taken to a booth and placed in front of a television monitor. I noticed a camera on the top of the television. I was told that I was going to be asked questions for the bail officer and that if I answered falsely I would be charged with perjury. I answered all kinds of questions about my job, mortgage, etc. I was once again taken back to the same cell. Many more hours passed by as I waited. It was over eleven hours that I was in the jail cell. I was released into the street sometime after 12pm on November 1, 2002. On my way out, I looked at the computer screen and saw my name highlighted with the charge of disorderly conduct and "case declined". The officer setting me free told me that the DA looked at the charges and found there to be no case.

by Michael Marcavage

"I've stood for more sneers and scoffs and insults and had my life threatened from one end of the land to the other by this God-forsaken gang of thugs and cutthroats because I have come out uncompromisingly against them." -Billy Sunday

Billy Sunday (1862-1935)


"I am an old-fashioned preacher of the old-time
religion, that has warmed this cold world's heart for
two thousand years." -Billy SUNDAY.

Why are the churches silent?



 "Ye that love the LORD, hate evil..." -Psalm 97:10