Students sitting in the Park Blocks outside Smith Memorial Center on Wednesday were exposed to more than the traditional afternoon of street preaching. Daniel J. Lee, 23, has been taking advantage of that public space since February, performing open air preaching of a unique Christianity, creating a lot of animosity but not much excitement.
At approximately 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday, however, Lee was explaining the significance of his new religious garb to a crowd of approximately 30 people when he was approached by four Campus Public Safety officers.
According to witnesses, the officers approached Lee and asked to speak with him, to which Lee agreed. The officers then led Lee away from his usual preaching platform and toward Cramer Hall, where they spoke for less than five minutes. Afterward, Lee was handcuffed and escorted to the Campus Public Safety Office with cheers from the crowd in the background.
“I was just waiting for him to … resist arrest or yell ‘police state’,” said Brandon Burke, an onlooker. “But he didn’t. He seemed really calm and just went with the police.”
Burke also stated that neither Lee nor his wife seemed surprised by the police visit or the arrest. “They seemed like they were waiting for it to happen,” he said.
Campus Public Safety Chief John Fowler stated that Lee had a warrant out for his arrest with Multnomah County Sheriff’s office. The warrant was for a previous incident involving harrassment, interfering with an officer and resisting arrest.
“We had knowledge of a warrant for harassment, and by law we are required to act on that,” he said. “The warrant had nothing to do with the Portland State campus, though.”
Lee was held at the Campus Public Safety office until he could be released to Portland Police officers. When the custody exchange took place, Lee was led to a Portland Police squad car by two officers and taken to the Multnomah County Detention Center to address the warrant.
Lee has a history of arrests off campus, in relation to his street preaching. He is also known for his inflammatory comments toward spectators, attacking women and referring to them as “baby machines” or spewing out racial slurs.With his unusual version of Christian beliefs, which promote following all laws found in the Torah, Lee commonly creates hostility with both the secular and Christian communities.
On April 26, Lee was involved with a disturbance in the Park Blocks involving as many as three Portland State students. One female slapped Lee and another poured a drink on him, after becoming infuriated by Lee’s comments. Campus Public Safety intervened and warned Lee about his conduct, and since then there have been no charges of criminal harassment by Lee at Portland State.Although there have been many complaints and signatures calling for the removal of Lee from the Park Blocks, Campus Public Safety officials are quick to point out that unless he is breaking a law, such as harassment or inciting a riot, Lee is exercising his right to free speech in a public arena.