LONDON — A video posted to social media on Sunday captures police in London arresting a man who had been preaching on the sidewalk outside of Southgate Station, telling him that “you’re disturbing people’s day” and “nobody wants to listen to that.” The man was taken into custody after refusing to “go away.”
The name of the street preacher is not yet known, but according to an Instagram post, the man is from Nigeria. He appears to be in his senior years.
“What are you doing here?” the responding officer asks. “I am preaching,” the man advises.
“You’re preaching. I am going to require you to go away,” the officer states. “You can never!” the man exclaims.
“Okay, then I will arrest you for breach of peace, plain and simple,” the officer threatens. “What breach of peace?” the man asks.
“It’s what you’re doing at the moment. You’re posing problems. You’re disturbing people’s days, and you’re breaching their peace,” the officer asserts. He then repeats, “If you won’t go away voluntarily, we will have to arrest you.”
The man again refuses to leave. “I will not go away because I need to tell them the truth,” he replies. He then resumes preaching.
“Jesus is the only way, the truth and life, and nobody …” the man begins, but is interrupted by the officer.
“I appreciate that, but nobody wants to listen to that,” he interjects. “They want you to go away.”
“Oh, you don’t want to listen to that? You will listen when you’re dead,” the man warns.
The officer then places the preacher in handcuffs, and another grabs the Bible from his hand.
“Don’t take my Bible away,” the man pleads.
The video has quickly received hundreds of thousands of views, and has generated mixed reaction.
“Bloody nuisance,” one commenter wrote. “Fine him and deport if no papers. You cannot force your beliefs on others, and obey the laws. [I] don’t care about your storybook or pie in the sky.”
“You are disturbing the peace of others. Find another way to preach … not committing sin in the name of preaching. After all, the Bible still asks us the obey the law,” another stated.
“My mind boggles at this, that these two policemen could do this to an old man for a start. Not to mention abusing his right to free speech,” a third remarked. “To say it’s a breach of the peace is just ludicrous. I’ve seen worse breaches of the peace with some buskers on the streets.”
“If this one man is arrested for disturbing someone’s day, what chance is there for anyone to have freedom of speech in this society?” another asked. “If this is his offense, then if I object to a demonstration by hundreds of people because they are disturbing my day, will they all be arrested? I think not. Let him speak freely, and if you don’t like what he says, don’t listen.”
As previously reported, numerous preachers have been arrested on the streets of London in recent years.
In 2016, Michael Overd, a British preacher, and Michael Stockwell, an American evangelist, were charged with violating the Crime and Disorder Act because “people were getting angry” at their words in declaring the exclusivity of the gospel and the falsehood of other religions.
During their 2017 trial, prosecutor Ian Jackson argued before the court that preaching that Jesus is the only way to God “cannot be a truth” and that some passages of the Bible are not acceptable for modern times.
“To say to someone that Jesus is the only God is not a matter of truth. To the extent that they are saying that the only way to God is through Jesus, that cannot be a truth,” he declared, according to a press release issued by the Christian Legal Centre.
The men were initially convicted, but upon appeal later that year, Judge Martin Picton, who was joined by two other appeals court judges, subsequently ruled that the prosecution could not sufficiently prove that the preachers were motivated by animus toward any people group.
“We conclude Mr. Stockwell did no more than express his no doubt sincerely-held religious beliefs as he was entitled to do,” he said.