Arrested preacher says free speech rights violated

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Vicksburg man arrested on disturbance charges after preaching on the street near the Old Court House Flea Market Saturday said police violated his First Amendment rights.

Micah Bishop, 34, 329 Lakeview Drive, said he was thrown to the ground and charged with disorderly conduct and failure to obey a lawful order, both misdemeanors.

“It was not a lawful order,” Bishop said Saturday night. “If people get arrested for preaching the Gospel, what will they get arrested for next?”

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A cameraman taping Bishop’s message also was arrested, he said. That man’s identity was not available.

As is common with misdemeanor offenses, names and details of the incident were not disclosed by Vicksburg police Sgt. Larry Holloway when contacted Saturday night.

Bishop said he began “preaching the Gospel as it’s presented in the Bible” at the landscaped circle in the middle of the intersection of Monroe and Jackson streets around 11:15 a.m. Flea market vendors and food booths, with shoppers and pedestrians, were nearby.

“They told me to move to the other side of the intersection,” Bishop said. He added that he was not obstructing traffic, either vehicular or pedestrian, and felt his voice would not be heard if he moved.

Bishop said he was taken to the police department where he posted $613 bond for himself and an estimated $312 for the cameraman.

“My court date is Monday at 10 a.m.,” he said. “If people are upset about this kind of arrest, I hope they’ll come out and show support.”

Antique Oldsmobile reported stolen in city

An auto theft was reported in the city Friday, Vicksburg police Sgt. Larry Holloway said.

A 1955 blue and white Oldsmobile, make and value unknown, was reported stolen from the 2500 block of Cedar Street. The theft occurred sometime between 10 and 11 a.m. Friday, Holloway said.

The car carried Mississippi antique tag number 1987.

Separately, A Pioneer CD-radio-MP3 player valued at $1,200 was reported stolen Saturday between 7:30 and 9:50 a.m. from a vehicle in the 1100 block of Jefferson Street, Holloway said.