Photo: Tony Miano / Facebook
A former Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station deputy was arrested July 1 in London for violating an English public-speech law on a street corner.
Tony Miano, 49, of Valencia, was preaching in downtown Wimbledon in front of the Centre Court Shopping Centre as part of a Sports Fan Outreach International trip for the Wimbledon Championship, Miano said.
Sports Fan preaches the Gospel outside large-scale sporting events.
Miano was arrested for violating Section 5 of the Public Order Act, which involves speech that “can cause distress, alarm or insult.”
Miano was reading passages from the Bible before he was approached by police officers, he said.
“I was preaching from 1 Thessalonian where I was describing different forms of sexual immorality,” Miano said. “and I mentioned homosexuality.”
During Miano’s speech, a woman walked by and swore at him. She walked into shopping center, came back out and began to videotape Miano with her phone.
She then made a call, and several officers arrived.
Two officers detained Miano, who was a deputy for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department from 1987 to 2007, and asked him to stop preaching.
The officers said they received a complaint of homophobic hate speech.
“I don’t have a phobia about homosexuals,” said Miano, who is a member of Faith Community Church in Newhall. “I want them to come to repentance as I would anyone else. That’s a message of love, that’s not a message of hate.”
The officer interviewed the woman for several minutes, then arrested Miano.
Miano was then escorted to the Wimbledon Police Station and taken to jail, where he was booked.
“I had my property removed, including my wedding ring,” said Miano, “And I was taken and placed in a cell.”
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The other members of Miano’s organization contacted Christian Concern and the Christian Legal Centre, which is an advocacy group in the United Kingdom, which seeks to protect free speech in regard to the practice of religion.
Within a few hours, Miano had an attorney in police station. They offered him a $138 fine for disorderly conduct, which he declined.
After praying with his attorney, a police officer interrogated Miano with a series of questions, such as whether he believed homosexuality was a sin, and if he would feed a hungry homosexual that came to him.
“They asked me not only about what happened on the street,” said Miano, “but about my Christian faith.”
The last two questions were whether Miano believed he was right about he what he did and if he would do it again tomorrow. Miano said yes to both.
After Miano’s attorney talked to the detective, Miano was informed the detective would seek prosecution.
Miano was ordered to remain in jail for 24 hours until the judge made a decision on whether he would be allowed to return to America or forced to stay in England.
Around midnight, an inspector at the police station said Miano would be released without any further actions.
Recently, Miano worked with Christian Concern to draft a letter to the House of Lords and the House of Commons, which was read on more than one occasion during Parliament’s last debate on same-sex marriage, Miano said. The law was voted into effect July 15.
With the help of Christian Concern, Miano publicly requested the police commissioner discipline the officers involved for discrimination against Miano’s Christian faith.
– David Mariuz