RIVERSIDE (CBS) — A pastor and another member of a Hemet church who were arrested for reading Biblical passages outside a Department of Motor Vehicles office are set to be arraigned Jan. 6 on misdemeanor charges.

The pair’s arrest in February of this year resulted in a federal lawsuit against the patrolman who arrested them.

Brett Anthony Coronado, 42, and Mark Allen Mackey, 59, are charged with conducting a demonstration on state grounds without a permit. They were arrested Feb. 2 outside the Hemet DMV office at 1200 S. State St. and are free on their own recognizance.

Coronado, who is a pastor at Calvary Chapel, and Mackey, who works in the church’s evangelical ministries, were reading aloud passages from the New Testament in the DMV parking lot when a security guard ordered the pair to “go some place else.” After the men refused, they were approached by California Highway Patrol Officer Darren Meyer.

The officer confronted Mackey, snatched his Bible, handed it to Coronado and arrested Mackey on suspicion of trespassing, according to the video and court documents.

“What have I done wrong?” Mackey asked in the video.

“You’ve been asked to leave, and you didn’t,” Meyer replied. “You can preach on your own property. You can preach on a street corner. But you’re not allowed to preach here because this is a captive audience.”

When Coronado asked Meyer to cite the specific statute that Mackey had violated, the CHP officer replied, “You want to go, too?”

“I’m giving you the option: You want to leave, or you want to be arrested?” Meyer asked.

A few minutes later, another CHP officer arrived and arrested Coronado on suspicion of impeding a business. Another member of the ministry, Edmond Flores, was also taken into custody, but was not charged.

Coronado, Mackey and Flores filed a civil liberties lawsuit less than two months later, alleging Meyer, and by extension the CHP, had violated their First, Fourth and 14th amendment rights, as well as violated the “liberty” clause of the California Constitution.

Meyer, now the public information officer for the CHP’s San Gorgonio office in Beaumont, sought an immediate dismissal of the lawsuit, based on federal judicial findings that law enforcement officers acting within their official capacity cannot be sued for carrying out their duty.

In September, Los Angeles-based U.S. District Judge Dolly M. Gee suspended further hearings on the lawsuit until the criminal case against Coronado and Mackey is resolved.

Lawsuit: CHP Arrested Riverside Preacher For Reading Bible In Public

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

Comments (45)
  1. mojo says:

    So let me get this straight – You can be arrested for reading the bible in a DMV parking lot due to the fact that you are “demonstrating” on state property but the Occupy LA crowd who camped out for weeks on end also “demonstrated” on state property AND trashed it at the same time causing millions in damages GET A FREE PASS??? What is wrong with this picture?

    1. Mel Gibson says:

      Together WE can do anything comes to mind

    2. Bryan B says:

      DMV is state & Occupy LA was on city property and had the blessing of our wonderful mayor.

    3. GC1008 says:

      No, you didn’t get it straight in several ways. The demonstrators of Occupy LA had not been asked to leave. Later, when they were asked to leave those who did not comply where completing the element necessary in trespassing that would then put them in the position of violating that specific law. Secondly there is a reasonable presumtion that people going to DMV for business have a need to do so to comply with certain State Laws, many of which are time sensitive. This results in a situation where they do not necessarily have the option to to get away from Coronado and Mackey. Hense a “captive audience.” I won’t go on to enlighten you on our forefathers’ building the separation of church and State for very good reasons. You’re comparing apples and oranges. I’m not all that happy with the financial cost of repairs and cleanup of the Occupy LA movement. Not to mention the overtime and manpower costs of Law Enforcement and city workers, but don’t get on your high horse over Coronado and Mackey. They were told to leave. They didn’t. People who were told to leave Occupay LA and didn’t were arrested. It would be nice if some of these occupy groups would set up a fund to pay for damages done, but I doubt that’s going to happen either.

      1. Joe says:

        you my friend do NOT understand the LAW!!

      2. Tracie Pistocco says:

        I think I will go to the DMV and just read my bible out loud not necessarily speaking to anyone. Do you see, this is the problem. Who is to determine what speech speaks to a captive audience. Yes, he did introduce himself but if had not and just started reading then I would say the person who asked him to leave is harrassing him.

        The real problem is a bitterness to GOD. You can hear in among the laughing crowd waiting to go into the DMV.

      3. Siobhra DeWar says:

        I wonder if I went to that parking lot and preached against the Bible if the Christians would defend my rights? Preaching stuff debunking the Bible is no different.
        It is not the message it is a public nusense. And I find that most of the religious types are prone to violence when they get themselves worked up.

    4. Brian Harrington says:

      this is a clear case of church and state granted they will win there lawsuit esp if it makes it to the us supreame court the 1st admendmeant allows free speach and gatherings the security officer had no right to ask the lads to go since they were not causing any problems and that there were no tresspassing issues they should sue the security company as well as a violation of infrigement since the security officer did not ask what there prpouse of being there the security officer could of ask to take the reading to the city sidewalk since that the members of the church would be in violation of chruch and state but as long they were not getting into anyones face this is a clear case of false arrest and harrasement there was no impeeding of bussiness because the doors or acess unto the dmv were not block only if they were actually trying to block pepole from entering other then a actual emergency then they would be impeeding bussiness

    5. Joel Lanuza says:

      LA is not state property is City Property

    6. Dave says:

      I totally agree, what is wrong the system, the 99% got a free pass to destroyed goverment property and a pastor can not read the bibble. “””This is one of the main reasons why this country and this states is in a bad situation, we are staying and moving away from God and acepting the oppositve or the bad. this country and this state has forgotten why they were so bless in the past. we need to look for God and his kindom.

  2. April says:

    “God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:10 NLT.

    May the Lord richly bless you. Many stand behind you! I have been richly blessed through Calvary Chapel ministries.

    1. Siobhra says:

      April, do you have a problem with Gays coming on your church property and preaching to your people? How about they corner and trap your kids and preach to them? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. So if your church see’s nothing wrong with trapping people and preaching to them your church is giving Gays, Abortionist, Atheist, and any other Liberal permission to trap them or their kids and preach to them.

      1. Harry says:

        Awesome response!!

    2. Harry says:

      Annoying people who don’t want to hear that NONSENSE is doing right? Those freaks that spew that garbage in public turn people off to religion, just so you know.

    3. Harry says:

      And may Peter Pan and the Easter Bunny bless you!

  3. USC Trojan Girl says:

    All religions and this “God” character were created FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE of helping humans cope with death and tragedy. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s amazing what brainwashing from generation to generation can do. Point being, I’m glad these moronic fools got arrested. But what else can we expect from people who believe in a book that has sticks turning into snakes…LOL

    1. Amy says:

      lol agree w you 110% USC girl- there are two overly used phrases that humans use out of pure habit: “im sorry” and “oh my god”. Most of the time people say I’m sorry they are really not and most of the people who say oh my god are exactly what you said – brainwashed from generation to generation 🙂

      1. Thomas says:

        What exactly is your point? What if it IS all made up, or a fairy tale? What is it to the both of YOU what other believe?

        Anything that helps others cope with the harsh things in Life is a good thing, as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else.

        Both of you dumb broads need to stop being so narcissistic and let people believe in whatever you want to believe. The world doesn’t revolve around you and your Stupid beliefs. Grow up.

      2. robertrichg says:

        not brainwashed…Heart washed…God Bless U Rob

    2. Dana says:

      You mut have taken a class similar to the Religious Myths and Rituals class I took back in college. It messed me up for life.

      1. David Zaduk says:

        God is real, ask any physicist to explain the singularity to you, especially the part about information being eternal.

    3. Harry says:

      Well said Trojan girl. If these nuts really care so much, they need to get off their knees and go actually HELP somebody in need. With actions, not preaching.

    4. Silly Me says:

      Trojan Girl—-I feel so sorry for you….Mocking the word of God like that…and Harry- You must have been raised a very lonely child….

      1. Harry says:

        I feel sorry for you Silly Me. You might as well pray to a rock, it’s the same thing. As far as my upbringing, you have no clue whatsoever.

  4. Brad Wilson says:

    Two preacher-types annoyed myself and the people in line waiting to get into the Rancho Cucamonga DMV last year. They started after we lined up at 7:30am., going up and down the line reading out loudly and passing out their church pamphlets.

    Turning your back on them only made them talk louder. Leaving your spot in line wasn’t an option as the line kept getting longer. The DMV rentacop didn’t stop them, and when several in line said they already belonged to a church, the preacher-types insisted only THEIR church was the true church of God.

    Once the doors opened and people filed in to the building, we saw them get into their cars and drive away. The DMV lady at the counter said these guys do this every day, since they know they have a captive audience that cannot leave.

    American freedoms are great. But what about our freedom to NOT be harrassed or annoyed. These preacher-types would be crude bores no matter what they represented–whether it’s Girl Scout cookies, selling vacuum cleaners, or selling some brand of religion.

    None of us that day would ever be bullied into attending their Calvary Chapel.

    They have been repeatedly warned. I hope they do some jail time and try this stuff on the folks on the inside.

    1. David Zaduk says:

      Your freedom is great unless its annoying me in which case we should lock you up.

      1. bounce says:

        You have the freedom to think what you want, but you must also respect other people’s right to believe something else. Trying to force your views onto others violates other people’s rights.

        I suspect you would never tolerate a muslim group loudly reading from the Koran to you as you wait for your church to open for worship services.

  5. Ray says:

    I would like to see who pays property taxes on the state owned land then we can find out who owns it if it state it is PUBLIC PROPERTY.

    1. Mike says:

      Ray stop being so narrow-minded. That’s like saying since most people pay federal income tax all federal buildings etc are public property. State properties are property interests that are vested (key word there is vested) in the state NOT to individuals nor communities.

  6. Jim says:

    They want the state charges to go forward so it will hopefully result in a settlement,whereby the citizens can’t use the arrest. the court doesn’t really want to deal with this one. Gonna be interesting (especially since no 12(b)(6) or other dismissal.

  7. Fed UP says:

    I bet if they had been loitering and cussing and drinking they would have left them alone.

    1. ginny says:

      Or if they were reading the Qu’ran. Now the State would have come down on the CHP for stopping that.

      1. Tracie Pistocco says:

        I do not think that same cop would have had such an arrogant attidude toward a preacher of the Quran. Those laughing baffoons in front of the DMV would have been to afraid to mock. I know those types all too well in our world today.

    2. Harry says:

      Ridiculous comment.

  8. done says:

    Kill them all. City, state, federal, country, world. F em all. I hate them all.

  9. Denise says:

    Good! I hate when I have jury duty and have to listen to some nut jobs telling everyone in the the line (captive audience) that we are all going to hell. It is annoying and I can’t walk away since I have to be there. Get a permit and do your “preaching” somewhere else. Better yet, follow the tenants of your religion and don’t do it all. Fire insurance is what Jesus taught.

    1. Denise says:

      Is NOT what Jesus taught.

  10. Wren says:

    The charges are false; reading aloud doesn’t constitute a demonstration. And what law forbids reading to a “captive audience”? The men were standing in the parking lot, not indoors, so no one was forced to hear them for more than the minute or so walking to and from their vehicle. DMV property is owned and paid for by taxpayers; the men were within their rights. Increasingly police officers seem to think they can arrest people at will without just cause. The U.S. is not a police state. Law enforcement isn’t in charge of us, just the opposite. They are public servants–to protect and serve–not detain and harass. Christians won’t tolerate religious persecution in this country. The minister and his friend were correct in claiming violation of Constitutional rights. As Americans we say what we want to say, where and at the volume we want to say it. California is leaning too heavy with the restrictive laws. Time to butt out, officials, or get booted out.

  11. Day Carr says:

    There is absolutely NO hard evidence that God exists.

    So how did all of the universe come to be?? Well, “it just happened” is a real possibility. Oh, you think you need a God for there to “be anything?”

    Then where did God come from??? What?? It’s a mystery? Oh…so THAT can be a mystery…you accept THAT can’t be answered…but you quickly reject the idea that the universe “just is” because it “doesn’t make sense.”

    There is as much evidence FOR a God as there is that a God doesn’t exist. And if there IS a God, you have NO way of determining his/her/it’s motivations, intentions or desires. And NO, the “bible” doesn’t help…it was written by thousands of different people over thousands of years for thousands of different reasons.

    Wake up. Accept death. This is most likely the only life you will ever have for eternity. Hard to swallow??? Yes…it is. But it makes you truly appreciate what you have now.

    1. Harry says:

      Right? What’s so hard to understand about what you just said? Some people need that assurance of an afterlife, I suppose.

    2. Tracie says:

      Day Carr, you say it was written by thousands of people over thousands of years for a thousand different reasons. I used to think exactly the same way until I read it. You got the first part right. It was written thousands of years ago. What blows your statement to shreds is the part about it being written for a thousand different reasons. I found out by putting effort into studying it that it was written for simply one reason and all those people over all those years match exactly to the letter. I have met hundreds of surgeons who would totally disagree with you based off the miracles they witnessed at death beds. For you own sake and the sake of your children, you should really find out for yourself instead of listening to the naysayers as they spew the same old statement you are. I am glad I stopped because in a serious moment of life and death God came to my niece’s rescue and because of that we have another surgeon added to the list of many who witnessed another miracle in the name of Jesus Christ. God Bless the United States and it’s people for peace, love and faith in Christ.

      1. John says:

        Peter Pan bless the United States. Same thing as what you say. Religious freaks make me laugh.

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