Found the info... also at the end you can link and watch the video on the web site.
January 13, 2005
A case in Philadelphia may represent the "first time in U.S. history when the Bible has formed the evidentiary basis of a hate crime," said Philadelphia attorney Scott Shields. Mr. Shields is defending Michael Marcavage, head of the Christian activist group Repent America.
On October 10, 2004, Mr. Marcavage and 10 other Christians attended "OutFest," a gay pride event in Philly. The group had intended to carry signs calling for homosexuals to repent, and to read Scripture using a bullhorn. But when they arrived they were surrounded by a group of homosexuals called the Pink Angels, who blocked their way and hurled profanities.
The chief of police tried to move Mr. Marcavage's group to a perimeter area away from the main event. Mr. Marcavage quietly protested that he had a right to remain at the festival, which was being held on public property. Police arrested the group and, 21 hours later, city prosecutors charged five of them with a litany of crimes, three of them felonies, including intent to incite a riot, criminal conspiracy, and "ethnic intimidation." The group was also charged with possessing an instrument of crime (the bullhorn.)
But Enough Said Productions, a San Francisco documentary film company, caught the whole incident on film. The video shows the group walking peacefully, sometimes reading Scripture aloud, while Mr. Marcavage tries to reason with police about the group's First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and assembly. Next thing you know, though, police are hustling the Repent America group into a paddywagon.
(A condensed but reportedly representative version of the video is on Repent America's website; Enough Said did not want to release the entire video because they want to protect their documentary until it is released. But they did release the entire version to both sides in this case.)
The content of the film, though, didn't matter to Judge William Meehan, who, at a preliminary hearing in December, bound the group over for trial on felony charges that carry a combined penalty of 47 years in prison. At that hearing, assistant district attorney Charles Erlich characterized the Christians preaching and signs bearing biblical quotes as hateful, disgusting, despicable words, and as fighting words."
"Fighting words" is a legal term for words so provocative that they cannot be classified as protected speech.
Mr. Erlich yesterday told Philadelphia's Channel 10 that at OutFest, Repent America would not stay in their designated area and were using inflammatory language. "They were trying to go into areas to disrupt things by what they were saying to people and getting into people's faces to try and cause a riot," Mr. Ehrlich said.
But Enough Said filmmaker Mike Shaw disputes that. He had miked Mr. Marcavage and filmed the Repent America group from its arrival at the event until police shut the paddywagon doors. "There was no evidence of [what Mr. Erlich said] based on what I saw," Mr. Shaw told WORLD Magazine today.
Mr. Shaw is from San Francisco and was in Philadelphia in October to interview Mr. Marcavage for "Rush to the Civil Altar," a film about the dawning of legal same-sex marriage, an event Mr. Shaw views as a "civil rights" issue. Last spring, Repent America went to San Francisco and blocked the entrance to the city clerk's office after Mayor Gavin Newsom authorized the clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Mr. Shaw captured Mr. Marcavage on film that day and, in the interest of making a fair documentary, went to Philadelphia in October to learn what Repent America was all about.
As it turns out, Mr. Shaw's film is now Exhibit A for Repent America's defense.
Mr. Erlich claims Mr. Marcavage and his group deserve the felony charges because of incidents during the event that Enough Said didn't capture on film. Mr. Shaw disputes that. "It would be very interesting to see what he got that we didn't get," Mr. Shaw told WORLD. "We kept the cameras rolling the whole time."
To review the case and the video, visit www.repentamerica.com.