A Middletown man, arrested and charged after he allegedly generated unreasonable noise during the city’s Pride event last month, said he hopes the charge is dismissed because he doesn’t want to waste taxpayers money.
John M. Williams, 42, was arrested June 21 before the second annual Pride rally in downtown Middletown. He appeared Monday morning for his arraignment in Middletown Municipal Court for the fourth-degree misdemeanor charge. Judge James Sherron continued the hearing until July 23, according to court documents.
“We are looking for justice,” said Williams, who is represented by West Chester attorney Tom Kidd.
Williams said he, his family and others attended the Pride event to preach against “all sin.”
After the first court hearing that also was continued, Williams told the Journal-News that Middletown police were “in the wrong” because he was not using a megaphone at the time of his arrest.
In the police report obtained by this news agency, Sgt. Cris Kelly wrote he saw Williams carrying an amplified megaphone, something he had been warned against in the past. Kelly 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, which violates the city’s ordinance.
Williams contends Kelly was just down Central Avenue and was 60 to 70 feet away. He said he was disappointed Kelly performed “sloppy work” for a veteran officer.
The day after the event, Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw said, “We knew there would be some problems when you mix the event with protesters and they were handled appropriately.”
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 city 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.
Organizers estimated 3,000 attended the second Pride event. 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.
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