John M. Williams, 42, of Middletown, was arrested Friday night before the Pride event in downtown. He was charged with generating unreasonable noise, a fourth-degree misdemeanor. He posted bond that night. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Man says Middletown police were ‘wrong’ to arrest him at Pride event

John M. Williams, 42, was arrested, taken to Middletown City Jail and posted 10 percent of his $1,500 bond, he said. Williams then returned to the event without further incident, he said.

 

Hundreds attended the second Pride event in Middletown, which grew significantly over last year as organizers used more time to plan. It included a Pride flag giveaway, Pride Ride Bicycle Parade, Pride Drag Show and Gender Fluid Fashion Shows, Silent Disco and screening of the Greatest Showman.

Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said Saturday morning there were no additional issues at the event that continued at eateries and bars until 2 a.m.

“No other issues. Mostly a good crowd,” Muterspaw said. “We knew there would be some problems when you mix the event with protesters and they were handled appropriately.”

Mel Kutzera, owner of West Central Wine and an organizer of the event, said she “absolutely appreciates” the right for freedom to assemble and freedom of speech. 

But, she said, “we will fight hate with love.” 

She estimated the crowd at 3,000 and said the people “were great and everyone was in a great mood.” 

Plans are already under way for the third annual Pride event in downtown Middletown, she said.

MORE: Police arrest 2 at second-annual Middletown Pride event downtown

Williams appeared this morning in Middletown Municipal Court before visiting Judge Robert Messham, where his arraignment was continued until July 8. After leaving the court, Williams agreed to talk to the Journal-News about what happened Friday night.

Williams said he, his family and others attended the Pride event to preach against “all sin.”

Standing at the corner of Broad Street and Central Avenue about 4 p.m. Friday, one hour before the event was scheduled to begin, Williams said another man, David Tripp, of Columbus, sang a hymn into a megaphone as party-goers gathered around them and their families.

“Nobody liked it,” he said

Williams, who identifies himself as an open-air preacher, said he wasn’t using a megaphone when he was arrested. 

In the police report, the arresting sergeant wrote he saw Williams carrying an amplified megaphone, something he had been warned against in the past. He wrote that Williams powered on the megaphone, which was slung over his shoulder.

Williams held the megaphone while another person spoke, according to the police report. The sergeant said he could hear the megaphone from about 100 feet away, a violation of the city ordinance.

The city ordinance, in part, says: “No person shall generate or permit to be generated unreasonable noise or loud sounds which is likely to cause inconvenience or annoyance to persons or ordinary sensibilities, by means of a radio, phonograph, television, tape or disc player, loudspeaker or any sound-amplifying device, or by means of any horn, drum, piano or other musical or percussion instrument.”

The other person arrested Friday night was charged with assault. Paris Waller, 18, of Middletown, appeared for her arraignment this morning. Her case was continued until July 22, and she was appointed Cynthia Brandenburg as her attorney.

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