A law firm is contesting criminal charges against a pastor who was arrested outside a public library that was hosting a "Drag Queen Story Hour."
Attorney Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute says Pastor Afshin Yaghtin is accused of obstructing police when he was denied access to the event in Spokane, Washington, that was supposedly open to the public. The pastor wasn't at the mid-June event to disrupt it, nor was he blocked from entering because he was screaming or shouting, says Dacus.
"He was discriminated against and kept from going in the public library to see what was going on solely because of his religious beliefs and the fact that he was open about being a minister," says the attorney, calling it an "outrageous violation" of Pastor Yaghti's free-speech rights.
"[It's also a violation of] his ability to be treated equally and fairly and not be treated differently simply because of his Christian beliefs and perspective," adds Dacus.
According to TruNews, more than 40 police officers were outside the library providing security for the event – including "SWAT snipers" on the roof of the building. [Editor's note: The TruNews video documents the altercation between Yaghtin and the police.]
PJI attorney Jorge Ramos filed a motion to dismiss in Spokane Municipal Court this past week. That motion explains that the police report doesn't support the charge of obstructing police that has been filed against Yaghtin. It also points out the historical role of libraries in encouraging the exchange of ideas and notes the clear viewpoint discrimination in the vastly different treatment given to supporters versus non-supporters.
"We intend to represent him as far and as long as we need to to keep him from being put into jail [and] behind bars … simply and solely because he wanted to be treated equally and not shunned from the library because of his Christian beliefs," Dacus concludes.
A hearing on PJI's motion to dismiss has been scheduled in the Spokane Municipal Court for August 29.