A street preacher is suing an Oregon city for more than $300,000 over an incident earlier this year when officials stopped him from preaching about the Gospel and against abortion.
Mark Mayberry recently filed a lawsuit in district court against Portland over an incident from June in which a city employee attempted to stop him from passing out literature and displaying a pro-life sign at Waterfront Park, reported KOIN.
Mayberry is seeking around $307,000 and has asked that the city be penalized for violating a previous order protecting street preachers at the Waterfront.
“While Plaintiff expressed views that were undoubtedly controversial to some, his speech and conduct were civil, peaceful, and by no means incendiary,” wrote Ray Hacke, attorney for Mayberry, as reported by KOIN.
“Despite being cleared to resume free speech activities at Waterfront Park without fear of penalty, Plaintiff has not returned to the park — largely due to well-founded fears that he will be cited again.”
On June 1, Mayberry was handing out pro-life pamphlets and displaying a pro-life sign when he was ordered by a park officer to leave the park.
When Mayberry refused to do so, he was cited for failing to obey the order and harassment. He was then ordered to not return to the Waterfront for 30 days, according to the Pacific Justice Institute.
In response, Mayberry challenged the order before the Portland City Auditor on July 11, being represented by the Pacific Justice Institute. The auditor ruled in Mayberry’s favor.
In his ruling, Hearings Officer William Guzman concluded that Portland officials used “an unconstitutional application” of local laws to wrongfully exclude Mayberry.
“Therefore, the park officer’s direction to stop engaging passersby with information regarding his Christian beliefs against abortion was not reasonable,” wrote Guzman, as reported by Oregon Live.
“Appellant was not required to comply with this park officer’s unconstitutional attempts to silence Appellant’s message.”
Pacific Justice Institute President Brad Dacus said in a statement released after the July ruling that the auditor made the correct decision, noting that both federal and state law “protect Christians’ rights to express their views publicly.”
“The city of Portland doesn’t get to shut them down just because some people find their views distasteful or offensive,” Dacus said. “The city auditor made the right call in exonerating Mark Mayberry, but the city should be forewarned: there will be consequences for the city’s unlawful actions toward him.”