A judge determined that a pastor arrested outside a library’s Drag Queen Story Hour event for not moving to a designated protest area should have his charges dropped … because he was not protesting.
The police’s order to the Baptist pastor to move was in fact a violation of his First Amendment rights, the judge said, according to reporting by the Washington Times.
Afshin Yaghtin, a pastor at the New Covenant Church in Spokane, was arrested June 15 for obstructing police when he refused to move to a designated zone outside the South Hill library branch, which was hosting the children’s readings by local drag queens.
Drag queen events at public libraries have become a widespread leftist fad aimed at shaping children’s values.
In her ruling, Spokane Municipal Court Judge Tracy A. Staab said that while Yaghtin told officers he opposed the event, he had not been involved in any protest activity such as holding signs, making noise or chanting.
“Unfortunately, the scope of the protest zones was expanded to include anyone attending the event who had an opinion about the event, regardless of whether they were protesting or creating a disturbance,” read the judge’s Dec. 2 order.
“Although Mr. Yaghtin was not protesting, he made comments to police that suggested that he disagreed with the sponsored event.”
The ruling concluded that “because the arrest for obstructing cannot be separated from Mr. Yaghtin’s speech, the evidence is insufficient as a matter of law to support the charge of obstructing.”
The Pacific Justice Institute, which represented Mr. Yaghtin, said that he was merely observing the widely promoted Father’s Day weekend event, which attracted noisy crowds of protesters and counter-protesters.
Police kept the groups on opposite sides of the street, and Mr. Yaghtin objected when he saw that advocates of the story hour were permitted to be close to the library while opponents were kept farther away.