A Pennsylvania man known as “Philly Jesus” was arrested last week on charges of disorderly conduct and failure to disperse, NBC10 reports.
Michael Grant, a.k.a. “Philly Jesus,” said that Friday was a typical day, as documented on his Twitter account:
— phillyjesus (@phillyjesus) November 16, 2014
He then wandered around Philadelphia’s LOVE Park sharing scripture and having his picture taken with tourists, when police accosted him for accepting donations in exchange for photographs. As he wrote on his Twitter account:
People come up to me and ask me to take pics with them and for them..I tell them i Dnt charge but tips are welcome.. cop said u r solicitin
— phillyjesus (@phillyjesus) November 14, 2014
In 2012, Philadelphia passed a city ordinance designed to curb what leaders were calling “aggressive panhandling” by the homeless. It specifically forbid anyone for asking for money within 15 feet of a building entrance. Philly Jesus, however, was arrested in LOVE Park, far from any building entrance — and for disorderly conduct and failure to disperse, not panhandling.
“Those are charges that, in my experience, the government uses when you don’t do whatever the government wants you to do, or that the police officer wants you to do,” Grant’s lawyer, Charles M. Gibb, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
A few hours after his arrest — and after a #FreePhillyJesus campaign had swelled on Twitter — he thanked his “dudes” for their support, but said that it was no longer needed:
I am free my dudes..y'all Dnt need to say free philly Jesus no more
— phillyjesus (@phillyjesus) November 15, 2014
Watch a tourist video of Philly Jesus baptizing a man in a local fountain below.