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Court Case Delayed For Ex-Cop Arrested After Sharing Faith At NJ Mall

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New Jersey: David Wells, a former Long Branch police officer who was charged with defiant trespass for handing out religious pamphlets at Monmouth Mall in Eatontown, New Jersey, will again have to wait for his day in court. The court case was originally scheduled for Dec. 5, 2013, but has been postponed—for the fourth time.

APP is reporting that Eatontown Borough Prosecutor, Sean T. Kean asked for the case to be adjourned because Mall representatives were unable to attend. Judge Robert B. Thompson granted his request.

“There are a lot of constitutional issues. It’s a little bit more complicated than the average case we see in this court,” Thompson said, adding that both sides have used up their postponements and he won’t grant another.

Wells, was initially charged by Eatontown police officers on Nov. 5 when he refused to stop talking to people and engage them in conversations at the Monmouth Mall.

Mall security approached him and told him to stop and leave the property. They said the mall was private property and that he couldn’t distribute tracts there. Wells defended that he had a right to do what he was doing, and cited a state court ruling that declared malls a quasi-public venue where such leaflets could be distributed. The mall’s code of conduct allows picketing, leafleting, soliciting and/or petitioning with prior written consent from mall management, which Wells did not have. Security called the police.

When Eatontown police officers arrived, Wells explained that he didn’t want to be arrested, but after continuing to assert that his activities were legal, Wells was arrested and charged with trespassing. In court, he plead ‘not guilty’ to the charges.

In Nov. 2013, Wells told the Christian News Network,

“I want to emphasize that I was not making any public spectacle: no signs, no loudness, no offensive language. I was simply trying to talk to people. I simply approached individuals and asked them if I could ask them a question. If they said no, I left them alone. If they said yes I simply asked, ‘Are you going to Heaven?’ How I responded was based on how they answered that question.”

freedom of speech taped“If we’ve gotten to the point in the U.S. that we cannot talk to other people civilly, we’re in trouble.”

 

David’s attorney, Demetrios Stratis said they will ask Thompson for a dismissal of the charge.

New Jersey legal statute defines defiant trespass as a petty disorderly persons offense.

While it has been reported that Wells was handing out Bible tracts, David Wells told Voice of the Persecuted,

I never defended my right to handout literature, but my right to talk to people and engage them in conversations. What I was using looked like trillion dollar bills and I used them as an ‘Ice breaker’ to facilitate a conversation. The fact is that I wasn’t handing them out willy-nilly to every passerby.

I would pose the question, “Would you like to answer a question for a trillion dollars?” If the person did not, they did not get the (fake) money. The trillion dollars were nothing more than novelties to start a conversation.

trillion

The prosecution wants to make the handling out of leaflets the center of the case, but that is the furthest thing from the truth, and that’s what I told them repeatedly at the mall. In other words, I didn’t leave because I believed I had a right to leaflet, I didn’t leave because I have a right to talk to people.

The police reports reflect that he maintained his right to speak freely.

We also asked David if the case has diminished his mission to share the Gospel in any way. He told VOP,  “This hasn’t had any negative affect, only positive!”

David mentioned that since his arrest, he had been wondering how God will use this ‘event’ for His glory. He met a man who works on Wall Street who shared with him how the arrest ultimately lead to discussions with his unsaved co-workers about Jesus Christ! David added, “I was very blessed to hear this! Praises to God!”

At one of the court appearances, a friend from David’s church was able to witness to a reporter who was covering the story, along with two other people. Wells said, “Seeds were planted that day!”

petition to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as officials of Vornado Realty, was started on Wells’ behalf, asking the company and Monmouth Mall to allow free speech, and to “change their policies to comply with the protections of the United States Constitution and judicial case law banning discrimination.”

The petition was started by Robert Angelini, who believes Wells was within his rights to distribute leaflets. Angelini is a former police officer who retired from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office in 2012.

In the petition, Angelini states:

“Our interpretation of the manager’s explanation and the mall’s code of conduct makes a reasonable person believe, if you engage any person anywhere on mall property and utter anything ‘religious’; and/or hand out leaflets and that utterance brings a complaint from at least one person, you will be asked to leave the property and arrested if you don’t comply.

“Dave, standing up for our religious freedom and our Constitutional rights, was treated like a common criminal. His crime? Refusing to leave the mall for engaging people in conversation about God’s love and salvation.”

You can sign the petition HERE

By Lois Kanalos, Voice of the Persecuted

Mark 16:15

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Mark16:15

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5 Comments

  1. Dave Wells says:

    Reblogged this on He Dwells — The B'log in My Eye and commented:
    Wonderful article. Thank you for sharing the story. God’s blessings to you!

  2. Dave Wells says:

    Consider this ‘imaginary’ scenario: a person goes to the doctors office (private property) and sits in the waiting room. The person next to them (maybe me) pulls out a trillion dollar bill and asks, “Do you want to answer a question for a trillion dollars?” They say no, and I say ‘okay’ and put the fake $ back in my pocket; the conversation is over.

    What law has been broken?

    Has anyone’s rights been violated?

    • Absolutely none! In our majority Christian nation, we are seeing more and more attacks on those who share the Gospel—the Great Commission, a call from Christ, the head of the Body and foundation of our faith.

      We have always been known as one of the most tolerant nations in the world. Why have we been so tolerant? Because this country was founded by Christians. Many in the world who have/are being abused, long to come to our country to seek freedom of worship and the freedom of speech (to engage others). A prime example would be Pakistan.

      Human Rights Movements, defense of innocent human life and equality for all, have started with Christians.This is why we see such blessings and freedom in Nations that have been founded on Biblical principles. And also why in many nations that have rejected the message of Christ lack these same freedoms and equality for all human life.

      We must stand firm to protect our freedoms.

      The struggle for our God given, inalienable rights are against those who wish to dominate other people. Against those who want primitive power over others, against those who wish to exploit, against those who may brutally and without feeling oppress human beings so as to exploit them for their own agendas.

      We believe as Christians that we should be at the forefront of defending the protection of our freedoms and the freedoms and value of all people. Our God given rights!

  3. Frank Januszewski says:

    The mall cops may have been jealous because Dave was once a real police officer. The Eatontown police officers may have been jealous because Dave was once a Long Branch Police officer. But the Lord is jealous because Dave is his child and loves to please God more than men. Keep fighting the good fight of faith brother, the truth is on your side. And one day, may those very same mall cops and Eatontown police officers be sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ right next to you in the Monmouth Mall. God’s will be done.

  4. Dave Wells says:

    For those who are following the case, I was found guilty in the local municipal court and have filed an appeal with the Superior Court. In the meantime, I still keep busy sharing the Gospel wherever I find myself, including the local mall. As of late I started a Go Fund Me page, NOT FOR ME, but to build a freshwater well for a pastor friend of mine in Uganda. Here is the link if you’d like to know more: https://www.gofundme.com/e25y3sbs

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