The ACLU is representing brothers Jeremy and Joshua De Los Santos, members of Old Paths Baptist Church, after collectively being arrested eight times in approximately a year and a half. The street preachers have faced charges of disorderly conduct, wrongful use of public sidewalks, obstructing officers and more, all which have either been dismissed by prosecutors or thrown out by the courts.
Jeremy and Joshua state that the expenses associated with fighting the false criminal charges have depleted their finances, and are asking to the court to stop the City of Roswell from interfering with their right to free speech. “They might not like our message. They may think our message is too confrontational. Nevertheless it’s our right in America to preach publicly,” stated Jeremy De Los Santos in an interview following one of the preachers’ first arrests in 2010.
The police, however, told reporters that because the street preachers are considered to be a public nuisance, they are violating the state’s disorderly conduct statute. “When anybody’s conduct reaches the point where it disturbs others, that’s when it’s disorderly conduct and it becomes a problem,” stated Roswell police officer Travis Holley stated.
While some police officers have protected the right of the De Los Santos brothers to publicly proclaim the Word of God, the preachers state that they are fed up.
“We can’t shut people up just because we don’t like what they’re saying,” stated ACLU lawyer Peter Simonson. “At the end of the day I think that’s what a free country is all about.”