Earlier this month, Jerry Buell, a Christian teacher in Florida’s Mount Dora High School was removed from teaching because he criticized gay marriage on his personal Facebook page outside of school time. Happily, a week later, Buell was returned to the classroom because of the tens of thousands of outraged e-mail sent by Christians to the school principal and the school board.
Now, another Christian is being persecuted.
Jeremy Kryn reports for LifeSiteNews.com, August 26, 2011, that pro-life activist Peter D’Attilio was beaten and arrested by the police for passing out pro-life bookmarks at a local town fair in Massachusetts.
D’Attilio tells LSN: “It was completely unexpected and out of the blue because I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I never got so much as a warning. They basically just grabbed me and cuffed me without a crime. I’m at peace because Our Lord and Savior was by me the whole way.”
In his account of what happened, published online by the pro-family group MassResistance, D’Attilio says that police approached him on the evening of August 11 when he was handing out two-inch-wide pro-life bookmarks to six teenagers at the annual St. Rocco fair on the grounds of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Franklin, Massachusetts.
According to D’Attilio, the police asked him to present identification. After asking why, the police officer reportedly responded that by law D’Attilio had to identify himself when asked by an officer.
D’Atillio says that when the officer prevented him from leaving the property after he offered to leave voluntarily, “I told him he was illegally detaining me. He then put his hand in my back pocket to grab my wallet, but I also put my hand in my back pocket to hold my wallet, so he gave up trying.”
At that point D’Attilio was put into handcuffs and was pushed to his knees while the police officer “started choking me,” after which the officer reportedly punched him in the face, giving him a black eye.
Peter D’Attilio with the black eye that he says he received after being punched by Officer Burchill.
In the police report filed by Officer Robert Burchill, Burchill says that he approached D’Atillio only after the chairman of the festival, Peter Brunelli, asked him to, claiming that Brunelli had received several complaints about D’Atillio and that he wanted him removed from the property. Burchill also claimed that D’Attilio repeatedly resisted arrest: “While I was trying to place the handcuffs on him, he pulled away and had to be physically restrained and handcuffed.” The officer said that D’Attilio again resisted when the officers were placing him into the police cruiser, and that “he had to be physically put into the cruiser.”
D’Attilio, however, denies he had resisted arrest.
At the police station, D’Attilio says the sergeant who did the booking asked him if he had planned to blow up the fair, telling him that pro-life people “are known for that kind of thing.”
When D’Attilio got out of jail, he found that his truck had been thoroughly searched with “bomb-sniffing dogs.” He says he has been told that he has been put on a “terrorist watch list.”
D’Attilio told LifeSiteNews: “By putting us all, every pro-life citizen, on the (Modern Militia Movement), it sends a powerful message that stereotypes all civil rights activists against abortion as terrorists.” The Modern Militia Movement is a government collective that identifies the warning signs of potential domestic terrorists for law enforcement communities.
D’Attilio, who still needs a lawyer to represent him, was arraigned in court before a judge on August 19, and is scheduled to appear in court again at 9:00 a.m. on September 28. He has filed a citizen’s complaint about his treatment at the hands of the police.
Neither Franklin Police Chief Stephen Williams nor Franklin Town Council Chairman Scott Mason responded to a request for comment from LSN.
Stephen T. Williams
Franklin, MA Chief of Police
Chairman of Franklin, MA Town Council