Philly Jesus: A Philly Cop Threatened to F*** Me Up After LOVE Park Arrest
“I woke up this morning; that’s all I can ask for.”
This is how my chat with Philly Jesus started the day after his now-notorious arrest for disorderly conduct in LOVE Park. I could tell that Philly Jesus, aka Michael Grant, was still a bit shaken up after what he calls an incident of “police brutality.”
“[The cop] didn’t even read me my rights,” Grant claimed. “He forcefully took me. It looked like he was having a seizure. There was so much hate in him.”
It all started yesterday afternoon when Grant, who likens himself to New York City’s Naked Cowboy or any number of other street performers who camp out throughout the city, was doing what he normally does: taking pictures with tourists in LOVE Park.
“People come up to me and ask for a picture,” he said. “I don’t charge, but tips are always welcome.”
People come up to me and ask me to take pics with them and for them..I tell them i Dnt charge but tips are welcome.. cop said u r solicitin
— phillyjesus (@phillyjesus) November 14, 2014
Grant said he knows the cop who arrested him: “He knew me from my past when I was addicted to heroin and crack cocaine. He was being an a-hole because he knew me from my past. He was always bothered by me.” (Grant was arrested more than a dozen times between 2005 and 2013.)
Grant alleged that the officer approached him, told him that he had to leave the park, and threatened to lock him up. When Grant refused, he said, the officer took action.
“I told him, ‘Yo, why are you locking me up?,” he said. “He didn’t even read me my rights. As I’m in the cop car, I kept saying, ‘Haters gonna hate: John 15, verse 18.’ I just kept repeating it over and over again in the car. He kept saying, ‘Shut up’ and would slam on the brakes on purpose so my head would hit the plexiglass. At one point, he turned around and said, ‘If you don’t shut up, I’m gonna take you to a secret location and fuck you up.'”
Philadelphia Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment and a copy of the arrest report. [UPDATE: The Philadelphia Police department provided a statement on Monday (see below).]
Grant, who was charged with disorderly conduct and failure to disperse, claimed he was in jail for only two hours. He also said a “famous Philadelphia lawyer”* wants to take up his case.
I asked Grant what he wanted to share with his fans, many of whom have taken to Twitter defending Philly Jesus:
@PhillyPolice why you guys have to lock up @phillyjesus when there's REAL crime happening in your city?!?
— Michelle DuBell (@dubell_michelle) November 15, 2014
Philadelphia: The city that booed Santa has now arrested Jesus http://t.co/Ib1iu0z4R3
— Jeremy Roebuck (@jeremyrroebuck) November 15, 2014
“I just wanna tell them all is well,” he said. “This is just pushing me towards the best of me. You’re always gonna have your haters. People are not gonna like what they don’t understand. I love the hate. Keep the hate coming: Be patient, because the war is coming.”
*Update, 3:45 p.m.: Grant is being represented by Charles Gibbs of the Green Firm LLC.
Gibbs says that he’s known Grant and his family for some time, and that he and his firm decided today to represent him in this case.
“Frankly, my partner and I found it outrageous that the government has chosen to crucify a young man for spreading the gospel of the man he believes to be his savior, and just a few blocks from where we signed the Constitution,” said Gibbs. “It’s clearly an activity that’s protected, and it’s disturbing and shocking that we’re even having this conversation, and that my client faces summary criminal charges.”
He added: “It’s not the first time that a guy named Jesus has been saddled with charges of crimes that he didn’t commit. … Here is a young man who is trying to get his life right after battling addiction, and we all have the right to gather in public squares and speak to what we believe in. That’s the core of what this country is built on. I look forward to my client getting his day in court and being vindicated of these bogus charges.”
As to Grant’s claims of brutality, Gibbs said, “We are investigating the allegations, and when it’s appropriate for us to have a conversation about them, we will.”
so grateful that @gibbsesq @thegreenfirmllc has agreed to represent me against these bogus charges. No talkin' 4 me but u contact @gibbsesq
— phillyjesus (@phillyjesus) November 15, 2014
Gov't doesn't like dude dressed like Jesus' speech and persecuted him. Sound familiar? We are proud to fight for @phillyjesus
— Charles Gibbs, Esq. (@gibbsesq) November 15, 2014
Update [11/17/14, 2:30 p.m.]: We spoke with Officer Christine O’Brien of the Philadelphia Police Public Affairs office. In regards to Grant’s claim of “rough” handling by the arresting officer, O’Brien stated that, “Mr. Grant should be in touch with Internal Affairs to file a complaint. He has every right to do so.” When asked about distinct details of the case, her only comments were that Mr. Grant was arrested for disorderly conduct and failure to disperse. She declined to answer questions about the arresting officer’s disciplinary record.