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SPF Street Preachers Arrested in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS- Four SPF members were arrested and jailed by Indianapolis Police, during the Indy 500 parade, on Saturday May 24, 2003. Fellowship Director Ron McRae, along with members Bruce Perrault from New York, and Daniel Gowen and Stephen McRae from Pennsylvania were arrested and jailed for 12 hours after refusing orders from Officer Mark Rand to not “say the name of Jesus Christ again.”
Twelve members of the Street Preachers Fellowship had traveled to Indianapolis to preach the gospel to the one million people attending the Indy 500 race, and had gone downtown Indianapolis on Saturday to do the same to approximately 380,000 people gathered for the Indy 500 Parade. Arriving approximately 2 hours prior to the parade, the Fellowship members parked their trucks in a downtown parking lot and began unfurling their banners in preparation for entering the parade route area. Gathered for this event were Kevin Deegan, James McDonald, Bruce Perrault, Larry Craft and his two sons Jordan and Joshua from New York, Daniel Gowen and Stephen McRae from Pennsylvania, Scott Bowman from Tennessee, Frank GeCarro and the Fellowship’s Director.
However, just as the street preachers had unfurled their banners in the parking lot 3 blocks from the parade route, they were accosted by Lt. Michael J. O’Connor of the Indianapolis Police Department, and told they could not enter the parade area with their banners or their megaphones or they would be arrested. When Fellowship Director McRae advised the Lieutenant of their Constitutional rights to free speech and religious exercise, the Lieutenant stated, “The sidewalks are closed for today. The 500 Festival Committee has purchased from the city the right to have a parade…Actually, there is no public property there, because it is purchased by the 500 Festival Committee…They own that! They own that parade route lock stock and barrel…It is like coming into somebody’s house. You don’t have freedom of speech in somebody’s house.”
When SPF Director explained that the sidewalks and streets were public property, and traditional public forums, Lt. O’Connor stated, “No it is not! It is not public property! It is assigned by the City of Indianapolis to the 500 Festival Committee. It is no longer public property. They control what goes on in that area. It is that simple.” Any discussion was fruitless, with Lt. O’Connor making it quite clear that the police would arrest everyone trying to enter the parade area with signs or megaphones. However, the Lieutenant advised that the preachers could stand along the parade route and preach with their naked voices. Therefore, wishing to preach to the larger crowds the following day at the race, it was decided to put away the banners and megaphones, and just preach along the route. Lt. O’Connor had advised that if the preachers attempted to pass out literature, and the police received a complaint, then the would order them to cease, and if they did not stop they would be arrested.

Bruce Perrault and Daniel Gowen Preaching
Along the parade route in Indianapolis

Entering the parade route near the beginning, the small group of Christ’s soldiers split into two groups, and started along the parade route passing out gospel tracts to folks sitting in the bleachers, erected along the route, which protruded several feet into the street, and several feet onto the sidewalks. Some of the sidewalks were completely blocked by the bleachers, forcing the parade goers, as well as the preachers to walk in the streets to pass the bleachers. Near the halfway mark, where the route doubled back, the Fellowship’s Director was stopped by officers and told to immediately cease passing out gospel tracts or be arrested. The Officers advised they had no problem with the preaching, and that the street preachers could preach all they wanted on the sidewalks, but they would be arrested if they passed out another gospel tract.

Officers ordering Director McRae to
Stop all Preachers from Passing Out Gospel Tracts

Though some “selfconceited Brethren, who run their own ways, and give liking unto nothing, but what is framed by themselves, and hammered on their anvil” (see King James Dedicatory) have labeled the Director as “crazy”, and a “trouble maker” that “goes out to preach just to get arrested” (see the Manual), such accusations were clearly false in Indianapolis, as Director McRae repeatedly adhered to everything the police demanded, instructing the men to cease passing out tracts so that the preaching might continue. The officer agreeing that the preaching could continue, the Director held forth from that same spot where the right to pass out tracts was taken from them. The men continued down the parade route preaching to 380,000 people, now stopping every 100 yards to reach the ever growing multitude.

Director McRae continues the preaching
At the spot where police stopped tract distribution

Moving down the parade route, the gallant soldiers of the cross marched into the Memorial Circle, where over 5,000 people were assembled at one intersection, and stood and preached Jesus Christ. And in an unbelievable script, that could only be written by God alone, the battle of Indianapolis was fought right there, as if Acts 4:17 was etched into stone on the city’s circle monument. Standing at the base of the Memorial, the preachers cried aloud, “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.”

Bruce Perrault “Holding forth
The word of life” in front of the Memorial Circle Monument

And O, how “the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against his anointed” (Psalm 2:2). No sooner had they began preaching, than the police surrounded them, and demanded that they immediately cease preaching Jesus Christ and leave the city. With videos running, said Officer Mark Rand to Director McRae, “If you say the name of Jesus Christ again on this sidewalk, I am going to arrest you and put in jail.” To this classic rendition right out of Acts 4:17, the Director replied, “The name of Jesus Christ is going to continue to come out of my mouth until the day I die.” Replied Officer Rand, “Not on this parade route it isn’t.”

“Did not we straitly command you that ye
should not teach in this name?”

Upon hearing Officer Rand’s threatening, Director McRae turned to the four men standing behind him, and if the countenance of the martyr Stephen was ever seen again (Acts 6:15), it was shining on those men’s faces, as each smiled with a confidence in God and a determination that proclaimed to the Director just how easy it is to be a “lover of good men” (Titus 1:8). Nothing was spoken, nor had to be spoken. Just those glorious smiles of men who love “harm’s way” for the Lamb of God, said everything. For “a good man sheweth favour, and…he shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord. His heart is established, he shall not be afraid” (Psalm 112:5-8).
Said Kevin Deegan, “There was nothing further we could do. That script was right out of Acts 4, and it would have been a sin to walk away from that command.” And so the praise service began, with four street preachers determined to demonstrate that the name of Jesus Christ is above every name. Having given up the banners, the megaphones, the gospel tracts, and even the preaching, the issue was whittled down to the exact problem that every city in this country has…the name of Jesus Christ. It wasn’t Budha. It wasn’t Allah. It wasn’t some fairy land yah hoo-yah way. The problem those officers had was the same problem the “officers” had in Acts 5:22, 26.

“But that it spread no further among the people,
let us straitly threaten them, that they speak
henceforth to no man in this name.”
-Acts 4:17

As the Director began “talking” to everyone standing near by about the wonderful, matchless name of Jesus Christ, he held the Bible above the crowd, and immediately Officer Rand ordered him to put it down, saying, “You cannot hold that Bible up on the sidewalk.” An as if by cue, all the street preachers’ Bibles went up in the air, and stayed up until their arms were handcuffed behind their backs. There was no more preaching, no “yelling”, no “gravelly voices”, or “bulging eyes”. Each street preacher simply talked to the officers and anyone around them, praising the name of Jesus Christ. As Director McRae proclaimed the Diety of Jesus Christ, Officer Rand contradicted, stating in uniform, “Jesus Christ is a false prophet.” To Daniel Gowen’s testifying of the saving grace of Jesus Christ, Officer Rand pressed chest to chest with the big Pennsylvanian, stating, “You can’t preach here. You have to talk. But I can preach.” And as if there was no God watching, no ears listening, and no videos recording, Officer Mark Rand, in the uniform of Indianapolis Police Department declared aloud, “Jesus Christ is a false prophet…and the Old Testament is a book of lies…based upon the Jewish religion.” When Brother Gowen called folks attention to the preaching of Officer Rand, he was then arrested and handcuffed by three of Indianapolis’ worst.

Daniel Gowen Under Arrest

The SPF’s young Editor, zealous of good works, rushed forward, zealously begging of the Director, “Let me go next!” Stephen McRae immediately began preaching, and was told by another Officer, “Quieten down or you will be arrested!” Proving the loudness having nothing to do with the matter, the young street preacher immediately obeyed, and his voice became so low on the video, nothing more could be heard. His continual talking about Jesus Christ, however, so exasperated the officers, that he was handcuffed and led away too.

SPF Editor Stephen McRae Under Arrest

Immediately, his place was filled with Brother Bruce Perrault, who holding his Bible high with both hands began testifying of Jesus Christ, and that he was “ready not to be bound only” (Acts 21:13), but to become “now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Philemon 9). Immediately he was handcuffed and taken away, being led down an empty 8 foot sidewalk, the officers would later falsely accuse them of impeding.

Bruce Perrault Under Arrest

Then, watching Brother Perrault taken away, the SPF Director turned to face the crowd alone; and with uplifted Bible, and a marching band playing the fanfare, God enabled him to prove once again, that for that old man, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God and esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of” a nice reputation, meant more to him than all the lies the Sissies for Christ will tell about this one. The Director said later, “If they had not put those handcuffs on me when they did, I would have ran to that paddy wagon. There lives no great Fundamentalist minister today that knows anything about this, but there is no greater place of fellowship with Jesus Christ in America today, than in a cramped prisoner wagon, or holding cell with the likes of those three young men. I would not have missed this for the world!” And he didn’t!

SPF Director McRae Under Arrest

During the arrests, the officers confiscated the digital camera, but Brother Deegan was enabled to wisely hang onto the video, “going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:59). Delivering the film cartridge to another brother, to “escape and evade”, Brother Kevin preserved an unbelievable ‘Exhibit A’ for that which must surely follow in the Courts of Justice. During the entire incident, Brother Kevin filmed as police officers repeatedly backed up into him physically to push him back away, ordering him to “get back away from my gun!” Following the arrests, the other street preachers rallied further down the parade route, and mounted the front steps of a large church, right on the end of the route, and stood like a rock, preaching as loud as it gets to the 300,000 parade goers as they exited the downtown area. The police came in numbers to stop them, but dared not pull them down from private property. And since no one was in the church, and the preachers were as “stubborn” as their fellows already arrested, the police could do nothing but stand and listen.
Being held in jail for 12 hours, the men were released without having to post bond at midnight (Acts 16:25), and following a “break fast” at Denny’s with Brother Deegan, they went straight to the race track, and preached to several thousand drunkards until 3 a.m., the Indiana State Police surrounding them to hold back the angry crowd. Said several people in the crowd, upon seeing those five preachers, “Hey, they are out of jail already!”

Those Four Prisoners of Christ
Preaching to 800,000 sinners passing in review
The very next morning.

Well, 12 fanatical street preachers were not in church on Sunday morning, but they definitely were in their place for God. While most pastors will condemn their absence from the pews at home, heaven will declare whether their labor was profitable. When Sunday was over, those 12 men had literally preached to over one million people in less than 24 hours.

Brother Larry Craft
Preaching across from the Indy 500 main gate, where
500,000 sinners passed before him in 2 hours.