The charge against a Middletown man who allegedly used a megaphone in violation of a city ordinance during the second annual Middletown Pride event has been dismissed.
On Monday, Middletown Municipal Court Judge James Sherron dropped the misdemeanor charge against John M. Williams, 43, of Middletown.
Williams said Sherrron made “the right decision.”
He was arrested June 21, was taken to Middletown City Jail and posted 10 percent of his $1,500 bond, according to court records. Williams then returned to the Pride event without further incident, he said.
He was told by his attorney, Thomas Condit, not to preach at any open-air events for the last seven months pending the outcome of his criminal case, Williams said. Williams said he’s “looking forward” to attending local events this year.
“We need more God in the city,” Williams said.
He hopes to meet new Middletown Police Chief David Birk to make sure he’s following the city ordinance to avoid another possible arrest.
Williams said he, his family and others attended the Pride event to preach against “all sin.”
In the police report, Sgt. Cris Kelly 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. Kelly 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.”
This is the second time Williams has been confronted by police about his behavior at public events. In July 2014, Williams was warned against using a device to preach during a Broad Street Bash, a downtown concert series. In June 2015, the U.S. District Court of Southern District of Ohio ruled the City of Middletown had “unconstitutionally banned” Williams from “engaging in religious speech.”
The city was told to pay Williams $1 and his attorney fees.
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