Police arrest pastor picketing mascot outside WR school

bpurser@macon.comAugust 10, 2010 

WARNER ROBINS — A pastor who wants to get rid of the Demons mascot at Warner Robins High was arrested while picketing in front of the school on the first day of school Monday.

Donald Crosby, pastor of God’s Kingdom Builders Church of Jesus Christ in Macon, was charged with disorderly conduct and picketing without a permit, both misdemeanors, after he refused to comply with officers requests to leave, said Tabitha Pugh, public information officer for Warner Robins police.

Crosby, 36, was free on $650 bond.

Officers were dispatched to the school at 401 S. Davis Drive shortly after 7 a.m. in reference to the picketing, according to a Warner Robins police news release. Pugh said Crosby was among a group of about 30 people picketing against the school’s use of Demons as its mascot.

The group did not have a permit to picket, which is required by city ordinance, Pugh said. Crosby was told this, and officers offered to help him with the process of obtaining a permit but Crosby declined and would not leave, Pugh said. Crosby was arrested and the rest of the group disbanded without incident.

Crosby said he plans to contest the charges when his case goes to Warner Robins Municipal Court in October.

“I didn’t know you had to get permission to voice your opinion,” Crosby said.

Crosby said officers did not initially make it clear to him why the group could not picket peacefully. Crosby said he was handcuffed aggressively and tightly, held for 30 to 45 minutes before he was told what he was being charged with, and that he was never read his rights.

Crosby has been circulating petitions to have the mascot removed, he said, because demons represent evil and the mascot “gives evil a good face,” Crosby said. “Prayer had to leave but the demons can stay?”

Crosby said he has guardianship of a young man he considers a son who lives with him in Warner Robins and who is enrolled at Warner Robins High School. Crosby said the boy did not attend school the first day but is expected to start soon.

Michelle Rhodes, a church member who was among those picketing, said the situation was not as portrayed by the police.

Rhodes said the pastor was asking police if the group could walk around, or picket from across the street, and that the police kept saying, “No.”

The pastor was in the process of rounding up the group to disband until they could get a permit when he was arrested, she said.

The police report stated that Crosby declined an invitation from Warner Robins police Maj. Harry Dennard to come back to his office where he would help Crosby prepare a request form for a permit.

According to the police report, Crosby declined the invitation and stated, “You’re just going to have to lock me up.”

The report also stated that Crosby told the crowd of picketers, “Let them lock all of you up.”

The mascot is a red devil with horns wielding a pitchfork. A large version of the mascot is wheeled out to the end zone during football games. Sparks shoot from the pitchfork when Warner Robins scores. The mascot was named for the Air Force’s 7th Fighter Squadron when the school opened in 1946, according to school officials. The squadron was nicknamed the Screamin’ Demons.

Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.

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