Freedom of Speech Represents in Columbia Heights

DSCN3460, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Ah, these guys were preaching something or other outside the Columbia Heights metro Saturday afternoon. I’m fairly certain that they are insane. I don’t know that 100% but there was some definite jibberish going on. I remember there was some city council laws being debated about how loud they could amplify their preachings. I hope that law passed. I find these folks can be intimidating to random folks. Me, I think they’re harmless but irritating and I’m happy to tell them as such. But I saw other folks that felt very uncomfortable and I think it is unpleasant to have such folks preaching on public property. So what do you think – is this simply a case of free speech? Are they harmless or a menace?

24 Comment

  • a public sidewalk is probably considered a public forum, and the gov’t would have a hard time regulating anything beyond time, place, and manner of their activities in a very limited manner, but would never be able to do so in a way that restricted their right to speak there

    Sorry, you’re stuck with them, as you would be stuck within pretty much anyone else who wanted to do the same thing.

    So PoP get out there with your iPod and a karaoke machine and get sing/humming

  • They look happy about you taking their picture

  • If it is public property and they are not threatening anyone, I don’t have a problem with it. I do have a problem with the use of PA systems, bullhorns, etc. If they are passionate enough about their message, they should be able to convey the message to those who want to hear without the use jarring/annoying mechanical devices.

    Oh and Happy Columbus Day! Surprisingly traffic is gridlocked downtown due to an event at the White House.

  • they’re almost always at the chinatown metro. I’m pretty sure the hipsters are not impressed.

  • Herb-traffic is terrible because of all the street closures around the World Bank today.

  • If these are in fact the so-called Black Hebrews, I know a guy who is one. Their doctrine is totally wack, but they have the right to the public forum they are using. This is America.

  • i’ve called metro police on these guys more than once. they are on metro property and to use metro property you must have a permit. if you listen to some of the stuff they say it is hate-filled and racist. and i completely agree with pop, they area very intimidating.

    if you recall, pop did a post on them a while back. they’ve been at the petworth metro plenty of times. their loud speakers are extrodinarly distrubing and loud.

  • I was driving by 12th St once when I heard them say that “Black men have to stand up and stomp out f*gs and lesbians” which I felt was a physical threat toward gay people and I called 311. As I remember the woman on the other end said really bored, “I know, I’ll send the next available officer over.” So I don’t trust them remotely.

    However I’ve heard their spiel on the story of Noah and it’s biblically correct. Noah did not take “two of every animal.” He took like 7 of the clean animals and two of the unclean animals. They went off on people not reading or understanding the old testament as a book in the bible which is, I think, a perfectly valid comment.

    However, I personally find that almost all liberalism is built on the new testament.

  • The event at the White House is the arrival of the Italian prime minister, so for awhile there will be two corrupt leaders under one roof.

  • Whoa Neener. That is a packed comment you wrote. Not really sure I understand your last sentence. Are we talking social or economic liberalism? No question. Jesus was a proud social liberal, preaching heresies such as love thy neighbor and doing away with eye for an eye.

  • I heard them as I was walking to the CH metro Saturday afternoon. I felt intimidated, and I was on the opposite side of the street

  • I have seen them …Not a Fan.

  • I haven’t experienced these guys in DC but they were always on 125th street in New York. Somehow they always managed to work the phrase “white devil” into their sentence just as I walked passed.

  • i saw them on H street a while back, and let me tell you, THAT was some scary shit… they had a pretty big group of listeners, all nodding and agreeing, and i could feel the tension asi tried to navigate through an uncompromising group of people who were suddenly pissed off at me because of my skin color…

  • Not sure if they are the same guys, but there is a group of pro-black dudes preaching with a PA system outside the ChinaTown metro every friday and I agree with Christopher – it gets a little scary when they have a large group of people nodding their heads to the “kill whitey” nonsense they are spewing. In Chinatown I’ve seen them one knucklehead away from inciting a riot. Why wife hates them and lets them know about it every week. SHe keeps telling me she’d get arrested if she said the same things they did but switched the words white and black. I think she’d just get her but kicked.

  • Raekwon and Inspectah Deck aren’t doing so well after 8 diagrams dropped…

  • My father has been physically threatened by a similar (preaching out at a public, crowded area) group of black Muslims. Free speech means protecting the speech of even those with whom we disagree, but remember that shouting “fire!” in a crowded theater constitutes action, not speech. A difficult line, but that’s more what I think of when I say that freedom isn’t free. (As opposed to meaning that freedom requires destroying foreign countries and killing poor American men in the process.)

  • Southern Poverty Law Center did a write up on them recently They’re definitely out of their minds but seem to have a good grasp of their free speech rights. They talk tough but at least personally I’ve never felt threatened by them.

  • They’re poor fatherless boys seeking attention. Look away and they disappear.

  • …and remember the klan demonstrates here on a regular basis. (note these guys dress like the klan, ironically enough)

  • Just from a legal perspective, all speech does not merit the same amount of Constitutional protection. Hate speech is not protected at all.

    If they are inciting others to commit criminal acts then they have no right to spread their message from a public space.

    I’m looking to buy a home in the DC area soon and this type of racism was the one of many factors that swayed me towards the suburbs.

  • They’re pretty twisted around, for sure. I’m with youdontknowme: poor fatherless boys, grown up without a shred of education or sense, taken in by an empty, pathetic religious scam. Also wonder about their right to use metro space — do they have permits?

    This is the same group that is at issue in the H street noise ordinance debacle. How would you feel if these guys were spouting off their crazy 60 feet from your front door? I’m all for banning the use of the megaphones/PA…


  • Like somebody once said, you have the right to speech but not a megaphone.

    That said, I was walking downtown with my roommate (who’s hispanic), and as we walked by, they shouted “WHITE DEVIL” right at him (he was only a couple of feet away). It was quite odd.

    One day when they were up in sunny Columbia Heights, they handed my other roommate (very Jewish including appearance-wise) a pamphlet, saying, “Learn who the real Jews are.” The pamphlet was about how the tribes of Africa were actually the Jews and that all Jewish people are impostors (and more/worse). Downright disgusting.

    But, as much as I hate what you’re saying, I’ll die—um—-defend your right to say it.

  • They appear at the GA-Petworth Station every so often. For the record, their venom is not just addressed to white people. They also berate the black people that walk by who show no interest in them – which is about 99.9% of the black people using that metro station. The City Paper did a feature on them awhile back. Look it up if you want to know more about them. As far as the noise is concerned, I believe that the DC City Council voted down a noise ordinance that would set a decibel limit on the amount of noise street protesters or preachers could make. The law was primarily aimed at the drum banging, megaphone blaring rent-a-protesters that make the circuit of downtown office buildings protesting against alleged unfair labor practices by certain building management companies. I guess with the closing of the Franklin Shelter these groups will have a tougher time filling their ranks since most of the “protesters” were homeless people hired for a few hours.

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