It might have felt good – even holy – for Portland, Ore. officials to kick a Christian activist out of a public park, banning him for 30 days, but now they are finding it costly.
The city’s governing council agreed last week that they should pay Mark Mayberry, a Christian evangelist and anti-abortion activist, $50,000 after he was “banned” from a public park last year for 30 days.
Mayberry filed a federal lawsuit, and was represented by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI). He said his First Amendment rights were violated when parks and police staff forced him out of Tom McCall Waterfront Park in June of 2019.
Mayberry was holding a sign opposing abortion, handing out related material, and talking to people about abortion and God when a parks officer told to leave. He refused and was given a citation that excluded him from the park for a month, World Net Daily reported.
Portland’s City Council approved the $50,000 settlement on May 27 in a meeting held via video conference due to coronavirus concerns.
Ray D. Hacke, PJI’s Oregon-based staff attorney, said in a statement: “The city of Portland unfortunately has a well-earned reputation for being hostile toward Christians who share their views in the public square. But throughout our negotiations, the City’s attorney sincerely expressed that Portland truly wants to be a better, more tolerant city.”
Hacke called the settlement a “step in the right direction.”
Randy Stenquist, a city liability manager, told the council that the city violated Mayberry’s rights when the park ranger told him to leave. The city also violated a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling prohibiting Portland from removing people from public spaces who are engaging in lawful free speech, according to Stenquist.