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'Philly 5' Are Free! -
Agape Press ^ | February, 20, 2005 | Allie Martin

Posted on 02/20/2005 9:21:00 AM PST by UnklGene

'Philly 5' Are Free! -

Philadelphia Judge Clears Christian Demonstrators of 'Hate Crimes' Charges

By Allie Martin February 17, 2005

(AgapePress) - All charges have been dropped against four Christians who were arrested in October for sharing the gospel at a pro-homosexual event in Philadelphia. Charges pending against a minor who was also arrested at the time are expected to be dismissed as well.

Last fall, Philadelphia police arrested 11 Christians as they were taking part in street witnessing on a public sidewalk at a "gay pride" event. Charges were dropped against six of the believers in January, but the four adults and one juvenile -- all members of the group Repent America -- faced serious charges under Philadelphia's "hate crimes" laws. Those five were charged with criminal conspiracy, "ethnic intimidation," and riot. In a case that brought national attention, each of the five faced as much as 47 years in prison if convicted.

Now charges have been dropped against the four adults. On Thursday (February 17), Court of Commons Pleas Judge Pamela Dembe dismissed the charges, ruling that peaceful expressive activities like those of the Christian demonstrators are fully protected by the First Amendment. She also stated that prosecutors were unable to make even a minimal showing of any criminal conduct.

The defendants were represented by the American Family Association Center for Law & Policy (CLP), a legal group based in Tupelo, Mississippi. While the CLP says it is "pleased and relieved" with Dembe's ruling, the firm's chief counsel says the city must be held accountable.

Steve Crampton "The next chapter of this story is just beginning," says attorney Steve Crampton, "and that is, our federal lawsuit against the city for what we believe to be an intentional effort to suppress First Amendment rights."

The CLP is calling for the Department of Justice to investigate what it describes as "corruption and profound abuse of power" by city officials as they pursued the case against the defendants. "[T]he city clearly continued to prosecute the Christians with a vengeance during the hearing with bad faith arguments," states a CLP press release.

"Frankly, the 'hunters' have now become the 'hunted.'" says Crampton. "We intend to ask hard questions and vigorously pursue discovery to figure out exactly why these charges were ever leveled in the first place."

Crampton maintains his clients were targeted simply because of their message -- one of hope through a relationship with Jesus Christ for those wishing to leave the homosexual lifestyle.

"Under any other circumstances with any other speakers on the public streets, [the case] never would have even been filed, much less gotten to this stage," the attorney contends. He notes that the defendants spent 21 hours in jail -- "one lady [spent] ten days in jail," he says -- and faced a "very real threat of losing 47 years of their lives for doing nothing but sharing the truth" on the public sidewalk in Philadelphia.

"There has been a grave injustice visited upon them," the attorney adds, "and we intend to vindicate those rights in federal court."

Crampton says he is hopeful charges against 17-year-old Lauren Murch will be dropped during a hearing on Friday morning. The City of Philadelphia indicated it may appeal Judge Dembe's decision.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; US: Pennsylvania
KEYWORDS: christians; hatecrime; hatespeech; homosexualagenda; outfest; philly5; repentamerica

1 posted on 02/20/2005 9:21:01 AM PST by UnklGene
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To: UnklGene
we intend to vindicate those rights in federal court
2 posted on 02/20/2005 9:22:23 AM PST by Dataman
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To: UnklGene
"Hate" statutes are BS indeed.

If we can't think what we want to think, if we can't say what we want to say, are we truly free?

3 posted on 02/20/2005 9:23:09 AM PST by LibKill (Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.)
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To: Dataman

bears repeating "we intend to vindicate their rights in court."

4 posted on 02/20/2005 9:25:35 AM PST by StonyBurk
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To: UnklGene
GREAT news!!
5 posted on 02/20/2005 9:27:16 AM PST by DTogo (U.S. out of the U.N. & U.N out of the U.S.)
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To: UnklGene

Finally, an island (the judge) of sanity in a sea of left-wing, wacko activist judicial insanity. I don't think it would have stood-up to appeal, anyway.

6 posted on 02/20/2005 9:30:35 AM PST by 7.62 x 51mm (• Veni • Vidi • Vino • Visa• "I came, I saw, I drank wine, I shopped")
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To: LibKill

Sadly -the Democrats here in Colorado want to add such
confusion and divisions into our Colorado code. Attempting a ninth time to add "sexual Orientation" to the
protected class status list. I'vew written our Gov. and
to my State reps asking them to vigerously oppose such-
and to look at PA and the problems such has caused there.
Only one responded-and he promised to vigerously oppose such. No response from the Gov. Nor from the State Senate.
One simply cannot offer equal protection and recognition to
two idiologically opposing groups. The homosexual who wants
recognition for his/her/its sexual orientaiton will forever
be in opposition to the bible believing Christian who wants
the State to recognize their COnstitutionally recognized
right to freely express their religious views without discrimination or interferance from the State.

7 posted on 02/20/2005 9:32:08 AM PST by StonyBurk
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To: UnklGene

Whoever ordered them arrested in the first place should have his butt in a wringer.

8 posted on 02/20/2005 9:32:35 AM PST by sgtbono2002
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To: UnklGene

Need Federal Civil Rights charges against the Philadelphia officials who persecuted them ...

9 posted on 02/20/2005 9:36:56 AM PST by af_vet_1981
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