Street performer Michael Grant, also known as Philly Jesus, was arrested on Friday in Philadelphia’s iconic LOVE Park, charged with disorderly conduct and failure to disperse, spurring his admirers to start a social media campaign to free him.
Grant is a recovered drug addict and panhandler, according to the Daily Mail, who credits his success in sobriety to finding Jesus Christ. A daily fixture who is well known for his efforts to baptize people and attempts to walk on water, Grant accepts tips from bystanders but claims he does not ask for money.
“I considered myself completely healed and cured when I surrendered my heart to Jesus Christ,” he said earlier this year, in an interview with NBC10.
On Friday, Grant was in his normal Jesus attire when he accepted an offer to skate for free at the city’s new Dilworth Plaza rink. After returning to his post in LOVE park, Grant took photos with passers-by. He was then approached by police and accused of solicitation. Though the cop ordered him to leave the park, Grant refused, claiming he had every right to remain there. Philly Jesus was then arrested, reportedly reciting scripture as he was taken into custody.
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
Fans quickly organized a social media campaign using the “Free Philly Jesus” hashtag. On Friday night, Grant tweeted that he had been released, before retweeting hundreds of messages of support from social media.
I am free my dudes..y’all Dnt need to say free philly Jesus no more — phillyjesus (@phillyjesus) November 15, 2014
Grant claims that the cop responsible for the arrest recognized him from his days as a drug addict. Before he became Philly Jesus, Grant faced a long list of charges, including loitering, possession of marijuana, and theft of services.
Free Philly Jesus though. Let all of my dogs out. pic.twitter.com/sONeBbyQWy
— Eagles 7-2 (@TheYoungJMay) November 15, 2014
Philly Jesus isn’t the only street performer to recently be in the news for an arrest. As the Inquisitr previously reported, a man dressed as Spider-Man was taken into custody in June after he allegedly groped a woman in Times Square.
“What’s a Christmas tree without Jesus”-Philly Jesus pic.twitter.com/ztuwCAyC08
— molly (@popping__MOLLYs) November 13, 2014
Grant’s lawyer, Charles M. Gibbs, came to his client’s defense, questioning the nature of the charges.
“He’s a very decent young man who is simply exercising his First Amendment right of speech,” he said.
Philly Jesus will reportedly fight the charges leveled against him.
[Image: Twitter via the Daily Mail]