A Kingston pastor said that he was merely spreading the word of God outside his downtown storefront church when he was hauled away in handcuffs in front of an audience of horrified young parishioners. But Kingston police described the incident outside of Pastor Dhasan McComb’s New Beginnings Church as a “tantrum” that caused public alarm.
According to McComb, the incident occurred on the evening of Friday, June 15 as he presided over services for about 60 attendees of youth night at the non-denominational Christian congregation located inside the Rondout Plaza at 85 Murray St. The weekly event features a mix of games activities and preaching —teaching kids, McComb said, “about life and the Bible.” That night in the midst of a sermon entitled “Character Assassination” about the perils of being defined by one’s past rather than the present or future, McComb said he was “moved by the Holy Spirit” to carry his message outside onto the street.
After preaching on the street, returning inside the church and once again moving the sermon outdoors, McComb said police began arriving in the plaza. McComb said that he believes cops were called after a passerby began heckling the sermon and trying to start a debate. McComb said that he continued his sermon paying no mind to the heckler but, he believes, someone may have mistakenly thought a fight was in the offing.
“Somebody was trying to debate me about why I was out there,” said McComb, who has been pastor at New Beginnings for six months. “But I wasn’t paying any attention to that, I’m delivering the word of God.”
According to a police report, cops were dispatched to a call of a “man throwing a tantrum in the parking lot” and a “man trying to start a fight.” Eventually five Kingston cops and an Ulster County sheriff’s deputy were sent to the scene. According to McComb he was heading back into the church when a Kingston police officer approached him and asked him if he was carrying any weapons.
“I told him, ‘I don’t have no weapons, I’m a pastor,’” McComb said. “I said, ‘Look at all these kids around here, why would I have a weapon?’”
Frisked and cursed?
In response, McComb said, the officer asked if he would submit to a pat-down search. McComb said that when he declined to be frisked, the officer grabbed him, placed him against a police car and cursed at him.