Arguments have moved to the appellate court level in a California case in which a man talking to two willing strangers in a shopping mall was arrested because the subject of the conversation was God.
The case developed several years ago when a youth pastor was arrested at the Galleria Mall in Roseville, Calif., for having a conversation about religion with two other people.
Matthew Snatchko, who works with youth at his church, was interrupted in the middle of a conversation by a security guard. A second guard joined the confrontation and told Snatchko he was being placed under citizen’s arrest for “trespassing.”
The pastor said he agreed to leave but instead, the guards grabbed him, roughly shoved him against a storefront window and handcuffed him tightly enough to draw blood. Snatchko later was taken to the police station where he was booked on charges of battery and trespassing.
A short time later the charges were dropped, but officials with the Pacific Justice Institute decided to pursue a case against the mall over the impact of the policy on free speech.
After a Placer County Superior Court judge in 2008 affirmed the mall’s regulations, an appeal was launched to the 3rd Appellate District in Sacramento, and the briefs have just now been completed for that court’s review.
Get “Back Fired,” by William J. Federer, which shows how the faith that gave birth to tolerance is no longer tolerated!
“It’s surprising that mall owners think they can arrest patrons for engaging in casual conservations,” said PJI Staff Attorney Matthew McReynolds. “While a ‘don’t talk to strangers’ rule may be good for kids, enforcing it against adults is absurd, and we think it violates California’s free speech guarantees.”