The moment Avon and Somerset police arrested four Christian preachers for disturbing the peace (Photo: Screenshot)
Elham Asaad Buaras
Four Street preachers were arrested after delivering a series of anti-Muslim and homophobic sermons at Bristol’s main shopping centre on July 6.
The men affiliated with the US-based Cross Encounters Ministries were filmed clashing with Broadmead shoppers as they shouted that “all Muslims will burn in hell” and “Allah does not exist”. Their comments sparked a crowd to stop and the arrival of the police.
Witnesses say the four had also called gays “disgusting” and divorcees sinful and had refused to stop their preaching on the request of the police.
In the video footage a police officer is heard telling the one of the preachers, “You are causing a disturbance now, you are not welcome.”
The crowd begin chanting “go home, go home, go home” to the men. The police officer then warns the man he will receive a dispersal notice under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act – meaning he will have to move away from the area and not return for 24 hours.
The officer then asks the preacher’s name, to which he replies Michael, but refuses to give his surname.
Michael then says he will not leave the area and the officer warns he will be arrested if he fails to do so.
The preacher then begins to shout about “love” and is taken away by the officer with his hands behind his back – to the delight of the cheering crowd.
Shoppers start clapping, whistling and shouting woo as a PCSO says he will be seizing some of the preacher’s demonstration boards.
In initial post on the Cross Encounters Facebook page said four “brothers” were arrested in Bristol after open-air preaching, but the later update said they were not members.
“No, these men are not members of Cross Encounters Ministries,” said the post, which is understood to have been written by the group’s founder Tony Miano.
“They are much more important. They are far too important to be relegated to membership in a little, unimportant, para-church ministry nestled within a church in Southern California.”
It goes on to explain the men are not members, but “brothers in Christ’ and “heralds of King Jesus’.”
The post then adds: “It would be too great an honor for me to claim these men as somehow being under my leadership, as somehow being members of my ministry–especially since I am unworthy to carry their backpacks.
“My regret: that I was not providing the bass part in harmony with their hymn singing, in their jail cell. My regret: that I was not there with and for them during their momentary light affliction.
“My regret: that Cross Encounters Ministries has received so much as a drop of ink or a moment of attention instead of all of it going to these my faithful brothers who counted the cost that day in Bristol, and instead of all of it going to the glory of King Jesus.
“My joy: to count each of these men as brothers. My joy: to be allowed even a moment’s time in their company and in their gospel partnership.”
Avon and Somerset Constabulary confirmed that four men were arrested following the incident on Wednesday, at around 2pm.
A spokesman told The Muslim News: “Somerset Police received a number of calls complaining about four men who were speaking in Broadmead, Bristol at lunch time on Wednesday 5 July.”
“Their comments were allegedly anti-Islamic and homophobic and people told us they were told people were feeling harassed, alarmed and distressed. Callers also told us that a crowd of around 50 people were there and they were concerned for the men’s safety.”
“Officers attended and asked the four men to disperse. They did not do so and shortly afterwards they were arrested for racially/religiously aggravated public order offences.”
“A 51-year-old man from Bristol, a 50-year-old man from New York and two men from Taunton aged 52 and 63 were later released on police bail pending further enquiries.”