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.


One Comment

  1. Daniel says:

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

    1. dave says:

      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.

      1. RetiredSarge says:

        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.

    2. Torri Peterson Nolte says:

      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.

      1. JoeB says:

        “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.

  2. Sonia says:

    Totally absurd. What indeed happended with Freedom of Speech?

  3. Dave says:

    Sounds like we are living in a third world country.

    1. The Big Logic says:

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

  4. deen says:

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

  5. mister s says:

    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.

    1. AJ Morgan says:

      Spot on Mister S!!

      1. Ron says:

        Likewise, mister s

    2. Ron says:

      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.

      1. mister s says:

        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.

    3. Ron says:

      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.

      1. mister s says:

        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.

      2. DMAN says:


  6. Sky says:

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

  7. Sky says:

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

  8. Sky says:

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

  9. AJ Morgan says:

    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.

    1. Dale E. Key says:

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

      1. Katlyn says:

        Amen! Pun intended.

    2. Mike F. says:

      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.

  10. swhitS says:

    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.

  11. TT says:

    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 !

  12. zkwc says:

    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.

  13. Chris N says:

    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.

  14. vee says:

    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!

    1. mister s says:

      See, I like entertaining comments like this one.

  15. Talega says:

    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.

  16. alan hart says:

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

  17. Den says:

    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 ?

  18. ME says:

    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

    1. mister s says:

      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”

  19. drozone69 says:

    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.

  20. Elvira says:

    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!

    1. David says:

      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.”

  21. R says:

    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.

  22. R says:

    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…

  23. Feel So Safe says:

    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!!!

  24. BJ says:

    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.

  25. Hex the Italian says:

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

  26. Scott says:

    What the story does not tell you is that you need a permit to protest on State owned property so thatproper measures and be taken to protect all involved… It might not be ritght but it is the law. The law needs to be changed but for now,CHP is just doing their job.

  27. Citizen says:

    I would love to be on this jury. These cops and this security gaurd need to be taught a lesson. But in the long run in won’t matter to the cops. They won’t get fired and you can bet the basta—— won’t chang they will only get worse. The chp will back back them up ans say they did everything right. You what guess who will be paying for this, either the tax payer or the insurance co. The cops and the security won’t have to pay a dime. The security gaurd may lose his job
    may be buts that’s about it. The will contuine on doing what they want to.

  28. danieliii says:

    The CHP’s mainstay is traffic enforcement, not arresting individuals for the lawful exercise of their First Amendment rights. Here, CHP Officer Damen Meyer relied upon information from a security guard, who makes just above minimum wage. Officer Meyer has received 6 months of intensive academy training and should have had the good sense to recognize this situation as out of his expertise. You see, issuing traffic tickets does not a Constitutional expert make. This is an arrest which occurred on public property (DMV) So, if a hearer is a liberal Christian hater who loves to kill unborn children, hates the death penalty, and encourages child molesters to seek counseling and behavior modification therapy so they can be reintegrated back into society, they must either listen to the preaching or leave. Yes, liberals love the criminals, yet hate those who profess Christ as their Saviour. Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. If you don’t know Christ as your Saviour, please read John 3:16.

  29. Mike says:

    The CHP is tasked with protecting and enforcing the law on state property. The CHZ also issues permits everyday to anyone who requests one if they want to hand out literature, preach or whatever on state property. These preachers did not follow the rules and were rightfully arrested for impeding a business.
    This isn’t about freedom of speech. Or freedom of religion. Just like you wouldn’t walk onto a freeway and kneel in the fast lane to start praying. In this scenario if the person was arrested would you all be making the argument CHP violated their civil rights? I don’t think so. Next time get a permit first.

    1. JoeB says:

      The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled time and time again that there are no pre-conditions to Constitutional rights. NO PERMIT REQUIRED!

      The cop lied and filed a false arrest report (among other things) citing a Penal Code section which does not apply, and he only did this AFTER the arrest had been made. The cop was clueless as to what he was arresting the preacher for at the time of the arrest. It was clearly a question of arrest-first and figure out the charge later.

      Learn more here:

  30. David says:

    To those who support the CHP for arresting a pastor for reading the bible at the DMV parking lot:

    If CHP will arrest a pastor, who is to stop them from arresting you from speaking your mind? Think about it. It is a shame when a man can’t peacefully share the word of God but people can say bad things about good people.

    The same constitutional rights that allow you to voice your opinion about this event is the same rights Bro. Mackey has to read from the word of God. This is a right we all take for granted.

    No matter what your opinion is; you should not be rejoicing over the pastor’s arrest but be afraid for you own freedom. America is slowly veering away from the land of the free and home of the brave.

    I once heard a song with the verse, “You got to stand for something, or you fall for anything.”

    Please remember, if the police will arrest a preacher who is to say they will not arrest you.

    1. Margaret Waggoner says:

      This is the most intelligent comment on the whole page. Everyone needs to read it😀

  31. Wayne says:

    The speakers were on a sidewalk, which is public proeprty, not DMV property. The DMV was not open and the speakers did not impede anyone who was gathered nearby. Apparently, no permit is required to speak to people on the sidewalk (think of the ramifications!). Finally, the speakers were not charged at the time of their arrest. In America, the government must have a valid right to interfere with your right to liberty or free speech. None was given until after they were in custody and it did not apply to the facts, which is why arresting officers are required to know the law before they detain someone.

    When you focus on the legal issues and not the content of the speech (which leads to ends-justifies-the-means logic when stating whether the arrest was proper), the answer is obvious.

  32. Volthair says:

    You have got to be kidding; impeding a business, at the DMV, LOL.

  33. Coral says:

    California Highway Patrol is a joke and amongst law enforcement, CHP is also thought of as a joke. Their chain of command is incompetent and the officers are more than likely candidates who could make it on other departments.
    CHP refuses to uphold the state motor vehicle law for illegal aliens, yet when a law abiding, tax paying citizen does something, CHP jumps all over them? In this case, a man reading a bible – wow, crime of the century; yet when Muslims pray and black airports, sidewalks, streets, CHP does nothing!
    When people who blatantly violate federal law, by unlawfully entering the United States and through fraud obtain driver’s license and drive without insurance, CHP does nothing!
    CHP’s command is incompetent and a disgrace and their police officers are a joke. I hope this good man sues that cop and joke of an agency for ever penny they own!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Los Angeles

KNX 1070 Newsradio

Listen Live