“The police lined up [across the street] and said, ‘You can go no further,” Faust told Christian News Network. “We were forbidden to cross the street and they wouldn’t tell us if we were being detained.”
Faust said that as he stood for some time watching others being allowed to pass by the human blockade, except for anyone that was present to witness to attendees, it became obvious that the police had an agenda.
“I asked, ‘Why are they allowed to pass?’” he said. “They were just quiet.”
“At that point, I took a step and attempted to cross,” Faust outlined. “Once I stepped into the street, [the officer] put my hands behind my back.”
Faust and a second member of his congregation, Ramon Marroquin, were then charged with “interfering with public duties,” a class B misdemeanor. He was jailed for 20 hours and held on $1,500 bail.
They were immediately arrested pursuant to the City Code’s vague ordinance that outlaws “interference with public duties.” In coming to the street preachers’ defense, Rutherford Institute attorneys argued that because the men were not interrupting, disrupting, impeding or otherwise interfering with anything the officers were doing and other persons were allowed to cross the police line, the police officers violated the First Amendment and lacked any probable cause for such an arrest. In upholding the Institute’s appeal on behalf of Faust and Marroquin, the Texas Appeals Court ruled that the police “skirmish line prohibited all members of the church from exercising their right of free speech merely because of their association with the church. This is far too broad a limitation.” Because the police had no basis for believing Faust or Marroquin would engage in violence or endanger public safety, police should not have arrested them for attempting to exercise their fundamental right of free speech.