Preacher Harassed by Edinburgh Police

I don’t know Don Karns.  I don’t know if he said anything unwise or simply preached the Gospel.  But whatever he did say, this is extremely disturbing.

I’m no legal expert, I’ve never been a police officer nor been arrested by one, so perhaps I don’t understand everything going on here.  That said, there are some questions that Police Scotland should have to answer:

  • Even if Don Karns had engaged in “homophobic speech” (he apparently did not), why does “homophobic speech” constitute a “police incident” (your officer’s words)?  Which legislation defines “homophobic speech” and says it is a crime?
  • Since he was not charged with a crime, why did your officers interfere with him?
  • Will the person who made allegations against him be charged with wasting police time?  Or did your officer invent the whole thing on his own?
  • Shouldn’t officers take witness statements affirming a specific crime, or observe criminal activity themselves, before interfering with a person’s lawful activity?
  • Why is your officer so opposed to his actions being filmed?  If acting properly, a video is his best friend.  What was he wanting to say or do that he did not want on film?
  • Do officers ever overstep their authority, and is the ability to video police actions a legitimate tool for holding police accountable against abuses?
  • Does officer training include guidance on preventing members of the public from filming police activities?
  • Is there any justification in law for an officer taking three steps towards a person filming in a public place, and extending a hand to block the camera?
  • If it is necessary to take three steps and then reach out to block the camera, how can that be characterised as the camera being “in my face”?
  • Even after the camera was at a distance, why did your officer signal to his partner to move in front of the cameraman to block the filming?
  • Why did his partner cooperate in the attempt to prevent filming?
  • Does the law allow officers to force someone who has committed no crime to go sit in a police car, and to use threats of arrest to keep others from observing what they are doing?
  • Does the law create an exclusion zone around a police car that prevents members of the public from approaching the car, or was your officer just inventing stuff?
  • Does Police Scotland really think it is a good idea for police to harass a Christian preacher at the location of a memorial to Christians who died under religious persecution?
  • If Don Karns were a Muslim, or a homosexual or political activist, you would be paying compensation for harassment.  Will you offer compensation, or will you just hope that he’ll “turn the other cheek” since he’s a Christian?
  • Will these officers face any disciplinary action?

Questions for Kenny MacAskill, Scottish Justice Secretary:

  • Do we live in a police state?  Does legislation permit this kind of police behaviour?
  • Do you stand by this statement you made in 2010?  “We continue to guarantee that those who have Christian views can express their views without coming before the courts.”
  • Would you care to expand that guarantee to say that they can also express their views without being harassed by police?
  • If your assurances from 2010 were worth so little, why should we believe any SNP “assurances” in regard to homosexual “marriage” not being used to restrict religious liberty?  Can you really be surprised if some Christians are slow to believe your guarantees and assurances?

Questions for Scottish society:

  • Why did none of the people standing around speak up and say that he’d broken no law?
  • Are we really willing to have our police forces engaged in this kind of bullying?  Is society as a whole going to say nothing about this?
  • Do we even have a functional press in this country?  Why are they saying nothing?  Is it not newsworthy when a Christian preacher is harassed by police at the Covenanter’s Memorial?
  • Does a nation with Scotland’s heritage really want to reach the point where those who believe what Christians have always believed can be silenced by a few militant homosexuals?  Do we really want a nation where they can not only force everyone to go along with their actions, but even prohibit people from expressing contrary views?
  • Do we want a society where an unsubstantiated allegation of “homophobic speech” will trigger police action?

Update:  My friend Dale McAlpine knows these men and adds a few details.  Again, I’m not a legal expert, but if these officers have acted lawfully, then we need a change in the law.

Update again:  Edited to refer to “Police Scotland” instead of “Lothian and Borders” — this changed in April, I guess.

Update 15 June: Followup on Edinburgh Police Harassment

Update 21 June: Cameraman Account

Update 5 July: Arrest in London

About Jon Gleason

Pastor of Free Baptist Church of Glenrothes
This entry was posted in Thoughts on the News and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Preacher Harassed by Edinburgh Police

  1. Patrick Heeney says:

    the link for Dale Mc Alpine seems to be broken. well stated concerns.

  2. Patrick Heeney says:

    nevermind. it worked. 🙂

  3. alcoramdeo says:

    Dear Brother Jon,

    Having been alerted with growing regularity to such incidents in the USA and Canada, and recently in England, this occurrence in Scotland does not surprise me. I am praying now for the man before the camera, for the men behind it, for you, Dale McAlpine, and Patrick Heeney, for by this post and comments you are all exposed. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world, hence we pray for wisdom, guidance, protection, courage, faith, and above all love for Christ, each other, those to whom we are to be neighbors, even our enemies. I pray also for the officers and the bystanders, that they may learn their origins and everlasting destiny and turn to the only One who can save them.

    There are, in light of your excellent post, some questions I would ask you to answer:

    Have you brought this matter to the direct attention of the Scottish Police?
    If so, in what way?
    Have you directly asked your questions of the Scottish Justice Secretary to him?
    Have you in any way approached the local or national news media with this matter?
    If not, has anyone you know of done any of these things?

    I ask because I can foresee the day soon coming when something of this nature will occur near me, and I would like to have some idea what actions have been taken by my brethren in Christ and how they have been received or rejected. Whatever your experience, I look to it as encouragement to rely upon our Lord in the crisis, according to His instruction of Matthew 10:17-20 and Luke 12:11-12.

    I pray for the individual citizens of our respective nations, for they have rejected their personal heritage.

  4. john neil says:

    Did anyone listen what was said on the film?. he was accused of commiting a posible crime.and was being questioned and has the right to privacy.if he had keeped his mouth shut and not accused the officer of lying that some one had not reported him, he would have been warned and got on with his sermon.

    • Jon Gleason says:

      Hello, John. Thank you for the comment.

      I agree it was unwise to say he thought the officer was lying, but the officer had already escalated the matter, yanking the cord out of his amplifier without warning, accusing him of something he hadn’t said, and acting against the cameraman. The officer was obviously hostile and acting inappropriately long before Don said he thought he was lying. If you were speaking with an amplifier and an officer just came up and yanked the cord out of it, you would not be inclined to trust much he says. If he then accuses you of something that you haven’t said anything about, you would be even more suspicious.

      In any event, he was accused of “homophobic speech.” That is not defined in law, nor a crime. The officer mentioned no criminal accusation. As the Scottish Government has said, Christians have the right to express Christian beliefs even if they are unpopular. Nor is accusing an officer of lying about you a crime. It is not grounds for detention, in a police car or anywhere else.

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