Saturday, April 19, 2008

Street preacher claims police harassment:'I got the distinct impression they wanted me to move'

A man who wants to spread the word about Jesus in his town of Alma, Ark., says he was intimidated by officials from the local school district as well as police officers when they approached him on a public sidewalk and told him to find another place to preach.Daniel Guyeski, who told WND he feels called to preach to his community, said a vice principal from Alma High School first warned him against speaking on the sidewalk, then two police officers approached him and made a suggestion."I got the distinct impression they wanted me to move," he told WND. He said he felt intimidated and left, instead of continuing his gospel message.Police officials confirmed to WND they contacted Guyeski, but that he was on a public sidewalk and was doing nothing wrong.Police Chief Russell White did, however, tell WND that there were "issues" with Guyeski and his office had been contacted by a nearby police department in Fort Smith about the preacher.Guyeski said when police confronted him they also accused him of having issues with a girlfriend in Fort Smith, but he explained that that issue must concern someone else because he is married and lives in Alma.Guyeski told WND he was preaching on the public sidewalk across the street of Alma High School when an assistant principal approached him and told him to move down the road, to a location near a fire station, and he complied.Then, however, he told WND that officers from Alma's police department approached him, demanded his identification and then after the vice principal approached the group, told him, "You need to find a better time and place to preach.""I was just doing some open-air evangelism," he said.He said the vice principal warned him, "If I let you come and do that, I have to let everybody come and do that.""They didn't want me out there. They were trying to make a claim I was standing on school ground while I was on the sidewalk in front of the fire station parking lot," he said. Principal Jerry Valentine told WND that the school assumes it owns the property up to the street, including the sidewalk."He was on school property," Valentine told WND. "My assumption was that it was school property. I'll check with my superiors. I may be wrong."He said Guyeski was told to get off of the sidewalk which the school believes it owns, and move onto city property.Chief White said Guyeski was on a public sidewalk, but officers approached him because he was "waving his arms.""We asked him to not impede with traffic," he said, and school officials said they, "did not want him on campus."But White also suggested there were other issues, noting that "those same officers had contact with him that night." Guyeski explained the officers approached him at a library and asked him for his home address.And White said his office "had had a call from another agency," and identified that as Forth Smith police. Guyeski said after officers questioned him about the Fort Smith issues, he called that police department and was told there was nothing going on.Guyeski said he was in consultations about legal representation over the situation.WND reported earlier when two members of The Gideons International were arrested while handing out Bibles on a public sidewalk near a Florida school over complaints from the school. The charges eventually were dropped.

As in the days of Noah...

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