Mormons, Mesa Police, Mayhem (Part 1 of 4)
Meet Mr. Larry Craft.
Mr. Craft is one of those Bible thumping street preachers. You know, hellfire and brimstone. He's an itinerant evangelist, who goes around the country preaching the Bible to all the unsaved. (Not just Mormons.) You may not like his message, but he loves you enough to warn you, and it's the stuff of our history (Revivals, Tent Meetings) and what's made our country great.
Yeah, okay, he's brash. Maybe you'd like a law preventing him from saying what he wants to say like a law to stop JW's from coming to your door? (Maybe a law to stop Mormon missionaries from coming to your door too?) But those of you who can think past a minute into the future will realize that if we limit his free
speech rights, then what's to stop us from limiting yours?
Because he's exercising his First Amendment right, he's helping preserve yours. Remember the ditty that used to regularly appear in Dear Abby? Then they came for me, and by that time, there was no one left to speak up for me.
But on this night, Mr. Craft wasn't preaching. On Saturday, March 23, 2002, Mr. Craft came for the first time to Mesa, AZ, home of a large Mormon population and a Mormon Temple. He came to scope out the Mormon Easter Pageant.
As it was Spanish Night, and as Mr. Craft doesn't speak Spanish, all he did was stand on the sidewalk holding a banner with Bible verses on it and watch.
When the crowd let out for the night, Mr. Craft stepped off the sidewalk so as to not obstruct the crowd. He stepped onto the grass toward Mormon property.
The Mesa Police (mostly off-duty, acting as private security for The Church) where thick as thieves, and immediately pounced on him (not literally) telling him
he was trespassing, and had to get off the grass. (Mr. Craft was one foot (literally) off the sidewalk, standing between two public works boxes.)
This has never been a problem in the past 10 years, and seems like common sense, and has even been condoned in the past by Mesa Police. Not this year.
According to Police statements, He [Mr. Craig Shumway, Head of Security for the Arizona Temple] told me [Sgt Njaa of the Mesa P.D.] that the LDS Church decided this year to prosecute for any violations of the law. But the law in Mesa, run by Mormons, is different than the law in the rest of the country.
The Church, specifically, a Mr. Merlin Rowley, told Police that Mr. Craft was causing a disturbance and trespassing, and wanted him arrested. Forgetting Mr. Rowley's lie that Mr. Craft was causing a disturbance (Mr. Craft wasn't preaching because it was Spanish night. Mr. Rowley is a top Mormon official do you want to be like him?
..one would think that a property owner would know where his own property begins and ends especially if he is going to press charges for trespass. But as we shall see, it ain't necessarily so.
Mr. Craft, who used to be a grounds keeper, knew public property had to extend from the centerline of the street beyond the sidewalk, and in fact, pointed out to the Police that a line of planted trees clearly marked the property line of The Church. And Mr. Craft wasn't beyond that line. Well, you know the Mor . . errr, Mesa Police weren't interested in what Mr. Craft had to say. You know, "don't confuse us with facts." (Why didn't they pray about it to find the truth? (A little Mormon humor.))
In addition to being convinced he was NOT on Church property but on public property, Mr. Craft also thought he was being singled out that is, was being discriminated against by the Mormon Church, because of his religion. Considering that there were
thousands of people there that night trespassing on Church property (the Pageant is an open air, no invitation necessary, public event), Mr. Craft figured the ONLY reason he was the ONLY person being arrested for trespass is because he was holding a sign with Bible verses on it. (Why does the Mormon Church fear the Bible?) Remember, he hadn't preached that night against
Mormons or done anything to make a stink. If his sign said I love the Book of Mormon none of this would have happened.
So the Police arrested him. Some people followed him to the jail to bail him out after he was processed which the receptionist said usually takes an hour.
They waited 2 1/2 hours. Wanna guess when Mr. Craft was finally processed? It wasn't until AFTER they left, which was past midnight. (Mr. Craft later told them that 4 prisoners who had come in AFTER him had been processed BEFORE him.) The fix was in. Obviously the Mor . . . er, Mesa Police had it in for Mr. Craft. (I'm surprised they didn't beat him with a rubber hose.)
It turns out that on Monday the Mesa P.D. decided to research where the property line was. (Oops a little late guys.) Here's an excerpt from the Police report
So Mr. Craft was right after all! He was on public property - not church property.
The Mormon Church was wrong and owes Mr. Craft a BIG
apology, plus compensation for his false arrest, don't you think?
To date, no one from The Church or the Police has apologized to him. Guess they're not repentant. Not very Christian, if you ask me.
Mr. Craft was falsely arrested by the Mormon Church and the Mesa Police, and discriminated against by both simply because his religion was different than theirs. Funny, I thought this was the United States, no some Islamic nation where they kill you if you dissent.
And what of Mr. Rowley, who filed the false report with the Police? Arizona law makes filing a false or fraudulent report a misdemeanor. ARS 13-2907.01 Has Mr. Rowley been arrested for making a false report that Mr. Craft was trespassing? To the best of my knowledge No. My guess is he never will be. After all, he's a big wig Mormon.
Phoenix, Arizona Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on Mesa Arizona Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on various Police Departments