A street preacher and aspiring politician says he was bound in handcuffs for spreading the Gospel Saturday night in downtown Cleveland.
Jason Werner, 28, was arrested after the manager of the Blue Point Grille said his customers inside the building complained they could hear Werner and his friend preaching outside.
"Any coward who supports abortion has the blood of babies on their hands," Werner said they preached near West Sixth Street and St. Clair Avenue. "Live for Jesus Christ, and you're guaranteed to go straight to heaven. Live for yourself, and you'll go straight to hell."
Suddenly, the police showed up. One of the officers who arrived, Patrolman Martin Rudin, has had more citizen complaints lodged against him in recent years than any other officer in the Cleveland Police Department.
Werner, who has failed twice to unseat U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, said Rudin and his partner ordered the corner preachers to go across the street. Werner refused. He said guests across the street were eating outside and would have complained.
Werner said the tension rose when he asked what he had done wrong and for Rudin's badge number. Rudin reached for his gun, Werner said.
Werner tried to take the officers' picture with his cell phone, and one of them knocked the phone out of his hand, he said.
Werner's friend had walked away by the time the officers handcuffed Werner. Then the officers argued with Werner about the Bible, he said. One of them told Werner that he was more religious than the street preacher.
While being tossed into a police car, Werner said he preached some more: "Well, Jesus wants your heart. He doesn't want you to be religious."
Police cited Werner for disorderly conduct. He was blocking the path of bystanders and telling people that they were baby killers and were going to hell, the ticket states.
Police brass declined to comment on the arrest, saying no complaint had been filed over it. If a complaint is filed, it will be thoroughly investigated, Lt. Thomas Stacho said.
Werner and his wife and friends have been preaching in the Warehouse District since 2006 and downtown since 2000. The citation will not deter him from spreading their message on street corners.
He said city councilmen and police officers have prayed and had coffee with him on street corners, and drug users have thrown their dope on the ground after hearing his sermons.
Rudin was at the center of a 2007 Plain Dealer analysis of police data. He gets physical more frequently when making arrests than anyone else in the department.
Although Rudin has had many complaints against him, his work has been lauded as well. He received a Distinguished Service Medal in October for a shooting incident. A North Carolina woman recently claimed that "Marty had been an angel from God."
She commended Rudin in February after he bought a jacket for her son at Tower City. The boy left his coat at home when he was in town for medical testing at the Cleveland Clinic.
Werner has no ill will against the officers, but plans to file a complaint.
"It's embarrassing to have something like this to happen," he said. "We were preaching Jesus Christ, and somebody was offended."
The citation can be seen here.