Police recently were caught on video citing a street preacher for disorderly conduct just off the campus of the University of Texas at Austin.
Police said the preacher “offended” a student.
“We had somebody that was offended by the gestures you were making,” the officer told the preacher, who captured the conversation on cellphone video posted to YouTube Tuesday. “And that’s our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen, because these are students just walking in this mall right here.”
The university police officer acknowledged the preacher wasn’t technically on campus, but he was writing him up anyway since students were walking nearby: “So the job here is to write you up as a citation, disorderly conduct, for offending someone,” the officer said.
When the preacher asked if freedom of speech protects offensive speech, the officer replied, “It doesn’t matter, freedom of speech. Someone was offended — that’s against the law.”
Not quite believing what he was hearing, he asked again if it was against the law to offend somebody.
“Yes,” said the officer.
The officer explained that some of the preacher’s offensive speech included using phrases such as “dirty penis,” “genital warts,” “you can’t keep your legs closed” and “homosexuals at UT.”
Here’s the clip:
UPDATE 9:54 a.m. ET: TheBlaze contacted campus police at the University of Texas at Austin on Friday morning and was told a statement from UTPD Chief of Police David Carter was posted in the comments section under the YouTube video.
The official statement, posted by Public Information Officer Cynthia Posey, indicated that the citation against the preacher was voided. Here’s the full statement:
The University of Texas at Austin Police Department (UTPD) “chain of command” has fully reviewed the incident brought to our attention this morning, and has determined that the disorderly conduct citation issued did not meet the intent and requirements of the law, and as such, the citation has been voided. Our review further showed that the officers in training responded to a call for service in good faith and with respect for all parties involved, including the person(s) wishing to file charges as well those being accused. The department will use this opportunity to remind us all of the importance of safe guarding all people’s constitutional rights, of which UTPD is fully committed and obligated to defend. Currently, Command Staff has a call into the individual who received the citation to let him know that no action or court appearance is needed on his part. The patrol captain is awaiting his return call to clarify. Furthermore, a letter will be forwarded to the address given by the individual receiving the citation as well.
This story has been updated.