Following a $50,000 settlement with the city, a Portland street evangelist can continue his ministry.
"This is not only a victory for our client," says attorney Brad Dacus of Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), the law firm representing Mark Mayberry. "This is a victory for everyone wishing to share the good news of Christ openly, publicly in the city of Portland."
The incident giving rise to this case occurred almost one year ago, on June 1, 2019: While at Portland's Waterfront Park, Mayberry, holding a sign defending the unborn, passing out related tracts, and engaging people in conversations about abortion and the gospel, was confronted by a park officer who ordered him to leave. When Mayberry refused, asserting his constitutionally protected right of free speech, the park officer issued Mayberry a citation excluding him from the park for 30 days.
Although Portland's city auditor ultimately overturned the exclusion, Dacus says Mayberry was rightfully concerned about being harassed again should he ever return to share his views in Portland, which is already subject to a federal injunction prohibiting the city from infringing on individuals' free speech rights.
"Hence, the lawsuit and PJI's involvement in protecting Mayberrry's rights," Dacus continues. "Part of the settlement is for the city of Portland to recognize that what they did was wrong, that silencing individuals because of their speech and not allowing them to exercise their First Amendment rights and traditional public forums long recognized by the Supreme Court as protected zones for speech is unconstitutional, and part of the settlement also includes financial damages being assumed by Portland -- $50,000 to our client."
Dacus says Mayberry is not the only street evangelist to be cited and/or to have gone to court for it.
"Pacific Justice Institute has a resource making it very clear how people are legally protected to be able to evangelize and share their faith publicly in other places, just like our client did," says Dacus.
The resource is available free of charge on PJI's website.