Mormons, Mesa Police, Mayhem (Part 3 of 4)
[See Part One, which has background info.]
If you've been following our story, poor Mr. Craft has suffered twice now at the hands of the Mormons and Mesa Police. It's not over.
On Saturday, March 30, Mr. Craft was standing on the sidewalk, near the corner of a Park, as he had been for 4 days prior. But this was a special night - the last night of the Mormon Easter Pageant. The biggest night, attendance wise, and the last night Mr. Craft planned to be in Arizona. As every street criminal knows, you always target the "out of towner" as he's less likely to travel back and forth from home to fight. From his previous arrest, the Mor . . . er, Mesa Police knew Mr. Craft was from out of town too.
Because they love Mormons, Mr. Craft and his sons were preaching the Bible, warning Mormons that their church is not true, and handing out literature (what Christians call "tracts") to passersby. Perhaps an omen of things to come, Park Rangers came by (they're not sworn police officers - kind of quasi officials) telling him and his boys that they could not hand out literature in the park because there weren't allowed to solicit on private property. Huh?
Mr. Craft read them the sign at the entrance to the park, which read "Public Park." (Guess you don't have to be literate to be a city worker.) And that "soliciting" implies "money." (ditto) The Rangers wanted Mr. Craft to stand on the grass between the street and the sidewalk, claiming the sidewalk was part of the Park. Mr. Craft called his lawyer (thank you, Lord, for cell phones) and reminded the Rangers that public sidewalks had been deemed by the Supreme Court to be public forums, and that he was simply exercising his 1st Amendment Right to free speech and freedom to practice his religion. In turn the Rangers called someone on their cell phone. Fortunately, this time the Law of the Land prevailed, not the law of Mesa. The Rangers hung around for a while and then left, never to be seen again.
There were no problems until 8:15 p.m.. The Pageant had started, Mr. Craft was done preaching until the Pageant was over. He was playing with some of his many kids in the park. (He has 9, although he's a Christian, not a Catholic. ) The next moment, 4 Police Officers are marching toward Mr. Craft. He's under arrest again!
His crime? Preaching while Mormons are praying. That's what they told him! Bet you didn't know that was illegal in Mesa.
Actually, the legal charge was a subset of Disorderly Conduct, "Interfering with a lawful meeting." The claim is that Mr. Craft, who was preaching to some people on their way to the Pageant, from across a 4 lane street, with the attendant vehicular traffic, in a Park, while Mormons are in an open air assembly a few hundred feet away, was intentionally trying to disrupt their meeting.
Mr. Craft was oblivious to the goings on across the street, as was anyone who was in the Park. It's interesting to note that there wasn't a big red flashing light that flashed to alert the world that Mormons were praying, nor did the Police stop traffic on that 4 lane street during Mormon prayer. The claim from Mormon witnesses is that Mr. Craft was preaching during the entirety of the prayer and doing so purposely. (The law requires "intent.") But the videotape shows Mr. Craft unaware of the happenings across the street and he doesn't preach unless someone is walking by. This didn't occur until AFTER the prayer started! (My, what a great testimony these Mormon people have - in more ways than one.)
Photo below is a shot from the videotape.
The clock on the camcorder is set 5 minutes fast, so this is just before 8 p.m. when the pageant starts. The prayer is in progress. You can hear it from the camcorder in the closed up car, as the prayer was broadcast over a VERY powerful PA system. Also, if Mr. Craft meant to disrupt the prayer, then he should have his cone aimed toward the camera, as that's where the pageant is. But stupid him. His cone is pointed away from the pageant, at the gal on the far left of the photo. Do you think maybe the Mormons doth protest too much?
So another false arrest. This makes 3 for 3. Can you say "massive lawsuit?" Is this the church you want to belong to? (Remember, these are Church higher up's making these decisions. The best of the best Mormonism has to offer.)
Mr. Craft was again carted off to jail. This time, it took the usual amount of time to process him (see Part Two, where they delayed his processing for hours until the people that were going to bail him out went home). They were able to bail him out so he could spend Resurrection Sunday with his family.
The only good news here is that the charges were dismissed at his arraignment on the following Tuesday.
Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Mesa Arizona
Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on various Police Departments