The following account is based on my wife's witness and my own witness as well as all the video we are providing. I also have two body cams of the entire time (hours and hours) we were preaching on the sidewalk. In my opinion, our free speech rights and access to public spaces was interfered with by the Lebanon police department.
On April 18, 2023 we went to peacefully street preach on a public sidewalk in Lebanon TN. There was also a religious event going on that we were preaching about. We dealt with 5 police officers on this day of which 4 of them told us we need a permit for our free speech on a public sidewalk. We found this not lawful, offensive and the documents below (from their own town) prove that we were not breaking the law using our free speech on a public sidewalk and we needed no permit. An officer (Lafferty) was the worst offender who limited our movement on a public sidewalk, he said people were afraid of me, he lied and said I was screaming at people, he alluded that we were blocking the sidewalk and we were not, he kept telling me I needed a permit which I didn't, it appears he was partial because we stood against what he believes. He clearly interefered with our first amendment rights and this is not acceptable. At one point he even said my wife is afraid of me. At that point I decided to leave because I do not trust this corrupt officer. All of this is documented in the videos below. He clearly interfered with our first amendment rights on this day and this is not acceptable. I will be talking to authorities about this.
April 20, 2023
The chief, Mike Justice, and an internal affairs officer contacted me and this is now under internal investigation and they will be reporting on it. I'm still waiting for a clarification on the actual law about a permit for free speech on a public sidewalk. (The chief emailed me and said it involves 'public property' but the code doesn't say that.) I believe all sidewalks are free speech places per first amendment and supreme court rulings.
April 19 2023
The day after this all happened, I made phone calls to the Lebanon police dept. Two officers I was directed to could not tell me if I need an event permit for my free speech and they sent me to the city attorney. I left a message for him and he has not yet returned my call. I have already been on the phone with the district attorney's office that handles this county. I'm expected to uphold the law by these police officers, I'm going to hold them accountable to the law as well. These links with these videos will be sent to the DA's office.
I have forwarded this link to the mayor, the the police chief and their city attorney. The Lebanon public affairs officer called me regarding this matter and I filed a complaint with him. Let's see what comes from all of this that justice may be done.
Their own document from the city of Lebanon says that permit that they told us we need, only involves events that affect street traffic. Our free speech on a public sidewalk, on this day, doesn't fall in their permitting. Officer Lafferty interfered with my first amendment rights.
As you can see 1-406 clearly says there should be no limitations of peaceful free speech, and that's what we were on this day. The videos below prove this all.
Police officer tells me he's calling the city attorney because I need a permit for free speech on a public sidewalk. He drove off and never came back to verify anything.
Two more officers approach peaceful legal street preachers on a public sidewalk. One tells me I need a permit for protest but they have no laws on protesting permits. Their permits only affect demonstrations in streets, we were on a public sidewalk. (They left and allowed us to preach on.)
Officer Lafferty later approaches me and tells me that I need a permit for free speech on a public sidewalk and threatened me with a citation.
Officer Lafferty cannot tell me the difference between free speech on a public sidewalk and a protest. None of these officers knew the law as the documents above show we don't need a permit for free speech on a public sidewalk.
Officer Lafferty and another officer cannot clearly show me what law I'm breaking yet they threaten me with a citation. The one officer also says we might not be breaking the law. After 5 Lebanon police officers approach, not one can tell me in detail what law I'm breaking. They seem very confused and they are definitely interfering with my first amendment rights on a public sidewalk.
Officer Lafferty lies and says I was blocking people from going into a business and screaming at people as he denies me to stand and peacefully preach on a public sidewalk. I can prove he's lying I have the entire preach on my body cam. He's clearly interfering with my first amendment rights.
Officer Lafferty (again) blocks my free speech public sidewalk access, not even allowing me to walk by my legally parked van. This is not acceptable.
Again Officer Lafferty denies me the right to walk on a public sidewalk and use my free speech. He's clearly interfering with my first amendment rights that the constitution protects. At the end of the video, he says that my wife is afraid of me. This was very offensive to us and while we don't fear men, I feared what this could escalate into with a corrupt police officer involved so I decided to leave long before I intended to. The video clearly documents officer Lafferty interfering with my first amendment free speech rights.
Officer Lafferty gets a warning about his sin and potential illegal ways.
Right before we leave, officer Lafferty runs off a man that wanted to talk to me (I'm such a threat?). I told officer Lafferty, once again, he interfered with my first amendment rights and this is not acceptable. I will be talking to local officials about this. Once again, if you go back and see the Lebanon City ordinances, we are not required to have a permit for free speech on a public sidewalk. Our rights were interfered with on this day but God was glorified!
Normally we do not place videos that have me on screen as a focus. This time we did it to show my calm demeanor while dealing with these unlawful police officers trying to stop my free speech rights on a public sidewalk. It's evidence against them.
See the following videos that are duplicates of the above, but they were from my wife's view point which show my peaceful demeanor and how my free speech rights were interfered with on a public sidewalk.
Go HERE to see the peaceful preaching that was done on the public sidewalk on this day.
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