Christian Preacher Spreads the Word – 5/30/2008

The warm afternoon of Wednesday, May 14 started as a joyous occasion for the De Anza College club Jews, Israelis and Friends, as members and officers celebrated the 60th anniversary of Israel’s establishment with chocolate and drinks.

For the De Anza Naqba Committee it was a time for managing a table with information against Israeli occupation of Palestine.

For local street preacher Mark Trout, however, it was a ripe opportunity to spread the message of Jesus Christ to both groups.

Trout first tried to spread his message to the Jews, Isralis and Friends Club “Israel@60” event booth. He read verses from the Bible about Jews to students and interpreted them in a manner that many who were present considered anti-Semitic. Trout then engaged in an argument with Yevgeniy Spektor, the DJ for the event, before being taken aside by two Foothill-De Anza Community College District Police officers and given a warning to stop.

Moving on to the Naqba Committee table, Trout projected his views about Islam, referring to the Muslim prophet Muhammad as a rapist and a pedophile.

A Muslim student, who wishes to remain unnamed, was walking to his class when he overheard the remarks. He felt so outraged that he shoved him in anger.

“I was defending my religion,” said the offended student.

Until police rushed in to quell the situation, Naqba committee members and other students held back both the offended student and Trout to prevent the violence from escalating.

“I resent Mark Trout’s demeaning comments toward women, homosexuals and communists,” said Stefan Hird, De Anza student.

Trout’s sermonizing offended many students in the area, who found him too aggressive.

“You don’t go to college to change your religion,” said DJ Spektor. “You go to learn.”

Police escorted Trout to the Administration Building, where Robert Griffin, vice president of Student Services and Institutional Research, questioned him. Another officer escorted the student to a patrol car near the Sunken Garden for questioning.

Trout was not charged with any crime but has the option to file an assault charge against the student who pushed him. Police told Trout it would be in his best interest to stay off the campus to avoid future problems.

Because Trout remained in the Free Speech Zone, which exists inside of the Hinson Campus Center patio on campus, he is entitled to say what he wants, police said. Yet many who were present said he was far outside of the zone, in which case administrators and campus police have the power to place a restraining order on him, banning him from campus grounds for disturbing the peace.

The Free Speech Zone was developed for students and guest organizations to practice free speech without disturbing the college’s learning environment. It was established after a lawsuit by an anti-abortion group a few years ago.

Acording to Police Chief Ron Levine, Trout is no stranger to De Anza or other institutions of higher learning in the Bay Area, as he has been known to give sermons on other campuses. In 2005, San Jose State University Police detained Trout for 15 minutes after a confrontation with one student.

Trout said he works for Steamers, a carpet-cleaning service, and is often seen preaching in his blue-collar cleaning uniform on weekday afternoons in and around the Hinson Campus Center. If anyone wants to reach him, he said, “Just call Steamer’s and ask for me.”

Written For La Voz Weekly
5/30/2008
Original Article: Christian Preacher Spreads the Word

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About Stan Rezaee
I'm a writer from San Jose who has contributed to several online and print publications.

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