by Jesse Zapata
A crowd gathered around volunteers from a religious group at the entrance of Kogan Plaza on Monday. The volunteers stood on milk crates they had brought with them at the mouth of the Plaza across the street from the Marvin Center. For several hours the group used a megaphone to speak to a spontaneous crowd that gathered around them about the need to read the New Testament more. Additionally, other members of the group held signs that explained their goals.
According to one of their members, a man named John, the group was not affiliated with any congregation and the group's members came from many different places. He said that the group was an international group that believes the New Testament was not read enough. John said there were a lot of men and women in the world who could be saved if they "took scripture into their hearts."
The group was encouraging people to go to their website www.luke24vs47.com. John did say the group was affiliated with Jeremiah Cries, DC Evangelicals, Gods Way and the website, which they displayed on their signs, "Youaresinners.com."
The crowd size peaked at about 30 people during lunch hour and responded in a variety of ways. Some onlookers conversed with the religious volunteers and asked questions, while a few people in the crowd argued with the speaker on the milk crate about the group's message.
Officer Saechao from UPD was supervising a few feet away from the scene. He said that UPD had been contacted but did not intervene because the demonstrators had done nothing more than exercise their right to free speech on public property. Officer Saechao also confirmed that the group of eight-nine demonstrators had not been offensive or unruly and had told him that they would stay until about 3pm.
One student, Frank Ockleman, took advantage of his own right to free speech and setup speakers about 10 feet away from the demonstrators on the plaza that boomed out casual rock music while he sat on the ground and read a book. Ockleman said he setup the music specifically because of the religious group's presence.
A calendar on the religious group's website showed that in the next week the group planned similar demonstrations at VCU, NCSU, Appalachian State, and West Carolina State. In the past week the group had already visited Harvard, Princeton, Rhode Island University, Bloomsberg University, U Penn, and George Mason University before coming to GW.