Lawsuit: CHP Arrested Riverside Preacher For Reading Bible In Public

RIVERSIDE (CBS) — Lawyers for leaders of a Hemet church say their constitutional rights were violated when police arrested three men for reading aloud from a Bible outside a local Department of Motor Vehicles office.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court, attorneys from Advocates for Faith & Freedom say an assistant pastor and two elders from Calvary Chapel Hemet reportedly went to the DMV on Feb. 2 before the office opened for business hours when one of the men began to read passages from the Bible.

Shortly after, a security guard approached Mark Mackey and instructed him to stop reading and leave the premises. The men say they had a First Amendment right to free speech, claiming that they were standing on public property and not interfering with any DMV business.

Approximately ten minutes later, a California Highway Patrolman approached Mr. Mackey as he read, took the Bible out of his hands, and arrested him for “impeding an open business” under Penal Code Section 602.1(b).

“This is an abuse of power on the part of the CHP,” said Jennifer Monk, Associate General Counsel for Advocates for Faith & Freedom. “The arresting officer could find no appropriate penal code to use when arresting these men. The purpose of the arrests appears to have been to censor them.”

The legal group has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the men — who were subsequently released after their arrests — for violation of their right to free speech and for unlawful arrest.

You can read a copy of the complaint here, and check out edited video footage of the incident posted on YouTube.

  • Daniel

    Instead of “upholding the law” most cops believe “they are the law” and this proves it.

    • dave

      This proves nothing more than that the officer felt the law was being violated. The courts will decide if the officer was correct or not. You really should learn at least the fundamentals of the US legal system.

      • RetiredSarge

        Hey Dave…. Last night it was reported while enroute to the jail facility the officer called someone at the police station and asked him or her to please find a law the pastor and other 2 had violated. The officer arrested the individuals without any charges. The law they finally quoted was not violated because the business was not open at the time of the reading or arrest.

    • Torri Peterson Nolte

      These men were on state property without a permit, although they had been provided with permit information at the Banning CHP office over one year ago. They ignored the information. The arrest was a righteous one. They were baiting the CHP. They had to have known that the DMV would call the CHP to come once again to remove them from the property. They were ready to capture it on film, and there you go. If you only see the video, you don’t have all of the background info on this case.

      • JoeB

        “Baiting the CHP is nowhere to be found in the Penal Code. They arrested without the foggiest notion of what they would be charged with and, AFTER the arrest, they cited an inappropriate Penal Code section.

  • Sonia

    Totally absurd. What indeed happended with Freedom of Speech?

  • Dave

    Sounds like we are living in a third world country.

    • The Big Logic

      Guess what……if we ain’t, we are very close!

  • deen

    There is a place and time for everything….the place is called the church…and theime ..anytime.

  • mister s

    HAHAHA funniest thing I have read all week. I know I don’t wanna be exposed to some child molesting bible thumper while I wait in line. Glad he was arrested. Its really a form of entrapment, those folks had business to conduct, they couldn’t just walk away.

    • Ron

      The point is, both comments are baseless as an accurate portrayal of an individual without further information on that person. As it is unfair and malicious for me to try to call you a Nazi Loving Cracker, it is unfair and malicous to call him a child molester; A bible thumper, yes, a child molester, no. It’s just, irresponsible.

      • DMAN


      • mister s

        When it comes to making comments and accusations, I’m often an irresponsible person, and make no apologies for it. Glad we had this conversation Ron.

    • Ron

      I agree that he was breaking the law and therefore was correct in being arrested. But, you sir, are nothing but hateful, and show nothing but ignorance in spouting stereotypes. Maybe I should call you a Nazi loving Cracker.

      • mister s

        Wow Ron, you could not have been farther off the mark with the “Nazi loving cracker” bit but nice try. Hateful toward religion? If its being forced on people……. then yeah I am, andface it Ron, odds are decent hes a child molester. I know I don’t have enough info or evidence to support that, but I feel its a fair guess.

    • AJ Morgan

      Spot on Mister S!!

      • Ron

        Likewise, mister s

  • Sky

    This is crazy, I would they have arrested a Muslim fro prying… I thin not…

  • Sky

    This is crazy, I wonder is they would they have arrested a Muslim fro prying… I think not…

  • Sky

    This is crazy, I wonder if they would have arrested a Muslim for prying … Sorry for the typos

  • AJ Morgan

    What about the rights of the people who didn’t want to hear it? I seriously doubt anyone wanted to be ‘trapped’ in line being preached at.

    • Mike F.

      What about when someone uses vile language and cursing around me when in public that I don’t want to hear? Are they going to arrest him? I don’t agree with that type of speech, but I also know that that person has the right and freedom to speak as he desires.

    • Dale E. Key

      Its called the freedom of speech how would you like it if they arrest you for the comment you left on this site

      • Katlyn

        Amen! Pun intended.

  • swhitS

    I personally cannot stand these types of guys but there will be those who will not like what I have to say either standing in the DMV so where do you draw the line?
    Freedom of speech means freedom of speech. We are fast becoming the lambs going to slaughter.

  • TT

    The sidewalk is public – If you read the article – the DMV wasnt open yet – if photographers can chase people down the street asking them questions and chasing their cars snapping pictures and not get arrested for it – Then a Pastor should be able to read a Bible on a public sidewalk….God Bless !

  • zkwc

    If they were at my place of business I would call the cops on them too. If I want to be exposed to the bible I’ll go to church. I don’t want to be agonizing in a DMV being accosted by words I feel vehemently against inside of the bible. The only civil rights that were violated that day were the poor people standing in line being forced to hear it! Thank you, CHP! And for once I can also say something nice about the DMV. Wow.

  • Chris N

    Look at the video on Youtube – These guys were not impeding anything. This storm trooper in a cops uniform needs a remedial education on the constitution.

  • vee

    If there one person in that DMV crowd that heard the Good News of the Lord and repented, then the mission of this brave pastor has been attained. The Lord is coming back…. Repent and be saved from the damnation that this world faces. Jesus Christ is Messiah!

    • mister s

      See, I like entertaining comments like this one.

  • Talega

    Time magazine says there is no Hell. So, where is that handbasket going? It contains the remnants of free speech. We’d better rescue it before it is lost forever.

  • alan hart

    Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. I have a right to quiet.

  • Den

    Can they do anything about persons coming
    to my door ( not mentioning cult…JWs)
    Day, afternoon, evening,or night !
    for the purpose of saving my soul ?

  • ME

    All that these men were trying to do is to share the TRUTH… I was at one point in my life iin the same situation most of you are in now ….Denial… I felt I didn’t want to hear it didnt care to read it….But, one day a man just like them shared GODS WORD with me and I now live Happier than ever and I now know how wrong I was before…. These amazing life changes after recieving GODS WORD…a coincidence ??? NO…and thats all they were trying to share with any one at the DMV who was willing to hear…..I

    • mister s

      Your comment about being happier than ever brings an old quote to mind, although I can’t remember who said it. Anyhow……

      “To claim that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than to claim a drunken man is happier than a sober one”

  • drozone69

    Had they been reading the Talmud they would not be arrested.Had they been Black they would not be arrested,The goverment is the mark of the beast.Law enforcement is the beasts right hand.

  • Elvira

    Glad he was arrested. Somewhere along the line,we’ve catered to Bible thumpers waaay too much for way too long.. I stress I’m not against anyone’s religion. However there is a proper time & place for everything,and the DMV is not the place to get on a soapbox. I applaud the CHP!

    • David

      If they arrest a preacher who is to say they will not arrest you for speaking your mind?

      Jesus tells us to go out and spread the gospel. The pastor was in his constitutional rights. The same right that give you to make this comment he has to witness to people, “Glad he was arrested. Somewhere along the line,we’ve catered to Bible thumpers waaay too much for way too long.”

  • R

    Whether all of you think it was right or not is irrelevant. The supreme law of the land protects everyone’s right to free speech in public whether they are reading from a phonebook, the Bible, or, God forbid, the Constitution of the United States. Free speech is just that, free, and in our republic it is not up to the mob, or ‘the people’ or ‘the majority’ to decide right and wrong. The law, the Constitution, decides. If you don’t like it then legally, and by amendment, change it, but any other way around the Constitution is tyranny… especially via judicial activism.

  • R

    I love how you ‘folks’ are using a passage from Proverbs (There is a time for everything under the sun…) principle as a basis for your secular anti-God positions…

  • Feel So Safe

    Thank you CHP for keeping the public safe from those darn preachers. They are soooo much more dangerous than drunk drivers, “good citizens” exercising their freedom of speech talking/texting on their cellphones while driving, & people shooting at other drivers on the highway. I just feel sooo safe knowing you guys are out there protecting us from those “vile” preachers reading the…OH NOOOOOO….BIBLE!!!! Remind me how to vote the next time we need more money to keep more of you out on the streets to protect us FROM EVIL!!!

  • BJ

    It doesn’t matter if Mother Goose was there reading nursery rhymes. We live in a country that permits free speech in public places, end of story. Even if you don’t like what that guy has to say, or don’t want to hear it, there are men and women dying to protect his right to say it. So when you have a bozo cop come up and shut him down, citing no law (because there is none) and giving a bogus reason for an arrest, that’s a serious problem. Which is exactly why the charges were immediately dropped and said cop is being sued in court. They weren’t infringing on anyone elses rights, but theirs were trampled on.

    Also, ironic is the fact that you can call the CHP and wait hours for a response, which often leads to nothing. But this guy reading from the BIble brings them within minutes, and is cause for immediate arrest. No questions asked.

    That’s actually not ironic, it’s downright scary.

  • Hex the Italian

    I just wonder if everyone would have the same free speech comments if the guy was Muslin and reading from the Koran?

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