A Christian pastor was arrested in the streets of London on Friday afternoon, after a passer-by had reported the preaching’s to the police, accusing the pastor of making ‘homophobic comments.’
Video of the incident released on social media shows the pastor, John Sherwood, 71, being confronted by three police officers, before being forcibly removed from his make-shift podium, put in handcuffs, and aggressively pushed into a police car as horrified onlookers berated the officers for their actions.
Multiple videos released on social media over the weekend caught the event in full.
The footage shows Sherwood preaching the final verses of Genesis 1, declaring that the family unit in the eyes of God was made up of a father and of a mother, not from two fathers or two mothers, a well-known practice in the faith.
However, police stated that they were made aware of a man making ‘homophobic comments’ by Uxbridge Station, where Sherwood was preaching.
The officers arrived at the scene to arrest the grandfather under the Public Order Act for allegedly causing ‘harm and offensive’ to the public.
The videos, which feature multiple angles, show the officers arriving, informing Sherwood that he was under arrest, before forcing him down from his chair and then aggressively arresting him.
Onlookers behind the camera can be heard expressing their shock, with one woman stating that ‘he’s an elderly man’ as the arresting officer forced cuffs on him.
Sherwood was then taken to a police station, where officers questioned him on his attitudes towards homosexual individuals.
He was detained overnight before being released Saturday morning without charge.
His file has been sent to court for further review.
Many religious figures and organizations came out in support for Sherwood after the videos went viral online.
Andrea Williams, a member of the campaign group Christian Concern, stated that police officers in the UK needed to improve their understanding of the laws regarding freedom of speech and religious expression.
She stated that it was ludicrous that the idea of arresting someone who has caused ‘verbal offense’ should be tolerated, citing freedom of speech laws in her argument, which is meant to protect the public from being arrested for things they say and believe.
Multiple other Christian groups online were quick to voice their disgust with what they saw, with some claiming that religious freedoms were under attack in the UK, citing that the police would have no issue with a pride event taking place in the city, even if it offended Christians.
A met police spokesperson stated that the video footage had been reviewed and they found no evidence of misconduct on the part of the arresting officers.