Charges have been dropped against two individuals after they were accused of trespassing on a sidewalk outside of a Florida public school. The two men had been handing out Bibles.
On January 19, police arrested Ernest Simpson and Anthony Mirto for trespassing after the principal of Key Largo School called police to complain, according to David Cortman, an attorney for the two men. The two men were with the organization Gideons International and were distributing Bibles.
Cortman says after he filed the initial motion to dismiss for his clients, the state agreed to dismiss the charges but then filed new ones under a different statute -- one which made it illegal to be within 500 feet of any school, even if the individual is standing on a public sidewalk.
At a hearing last week, a Maricopa County judge granted the motion to dismiss the new charges against Simpson and Mirto, which Cortman says confirms that it was a case of an overaggressive government attempting to silence Christians exercising their constitutional rights.
"The First Amendment protects the right of Christians to distribute Bibles and engage in other religious speech on public sidewalks, and it's certainly a sad day when Gideons are arrested for distributing Bibles on a public sidewalk," states Cortman.
The attorney says Christians cannot be treated like second-class citizens for exercising their constitutional rights -- and the judge's dismissal confirms that, he adds.