This video shows Todd Leibovitz and fellow
student Jeremy Hiltz preaching in front of the Bonham Exchange and being
confronted by a security guard.
Street preacher files
federal suit against city after arrest at Bonham Exchange
QSanAntonio.com, September 11, 2010
A student from the International Bible College in San Antonio who was
arrested last year for preaching in front of the Bonham Exchange has filed
a federal suit against the city for violating his First Amendment rights.
On July 11, 2009 Todd Leibovitz and fellow student Jeremy Hiltz were arrested
for verbal harassment in front of the Bonham Exchange. According to the
police report, Hiltz and Leibovitz were standing across the street from
the Bonham Exchange "yelling and preaching" at people as they
entered and left the club. (See related story below.)
Leibovitz is one of two street preachers who are bringing the suit against
the city. The other, Jose Muniz, was arrested for handing out religious
pamphlets during Fiesta San Antonio. Lawyers from the American Center
for Law and Justice and the Liberty Group are defending the two men.
Gene Elder, a local artist and curator of the archives at the Happy Foundation,
which is housed at the Bonham Exchange, said in an email:
"As an artist I have been somewhat in support of Mr Liebovitz's right
to speak his mind. I do enjoy political art, religion and art performances
and know that as artists we are always getting ourselves in trouble along
these lines. However, Liebovitz is not all that concerned about saving
souls or bringing sinners to God. He is performing all these nights at
the gay bar to bring attention to himself and create a disturbance with
the hope of being arrested. He has gotten in people's faces and his main
goal is to harass."
file lawsuits against the city
KABB.com, September 10, 2010
Two street preachers have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of
San Antonio, accusing the city of violating their first amendment rights.
A video by Todd Leibovitz recorded in June
of this year depicts Jeremy Hiltz preaching at customers of the Bonham
Exchange as they enter and leave the club. Leibovitz and Hiltz were arrested
for verbal harassment in front of the bar on July 11.
Bible College students arrested outside
QSanAntonio.com, July 17, 2009
The registrar of the International Bible College in San Antonio confirmed
that two men arrested on July 11 for verbal harassment in front of the
Bonham Exchange are students at the school. Sulema King explained that
Jeremy Hiltz, who graduated in May, and Todd Leibovitz, a fourth year
student, were out preaching.
According to a police report submitted by Officer Craig Nash of the SAPD,
Hiltz was standing across the street from the Bonham Exchange "yelling
and preaching" at people as they entered and left the club. Leibovitz
had a video camera on a tripod and was filming Hiltz and occasionally
turned the camera toward the Bonham’s front door.
Hiltz has become a well-known fixture on the block where the Bonham is
located. He told QSanAntonio that he’s been preaching there an average
of twice a month for the last two years. Officer Nash’s report indicates
that police have received complaints about Hiltz and Leibovitz on numerous
"Open Air" Preacher
The twenty-six-year-old Hiltz is a native of Maine who came to San Antonio
to attend the Bible College. He is married and has two sons. Now that
he’s finished school he and his wife Suzanne intend to move to Serbia
where they would like to start a ministry. These plans are detailed on
their web site, JTTN.org (Jesus to the Nations Ministries).
Hiltz says the message he preaches in front of the Bonham is the same
he preaches elsewhere, "God’s love and forgiveness is available
-- but God will only come if you turn away from sin." He told QSanAntonio
that he wanted everyone to know "that we don’t hate anybody."
QSanAntonio found many online videos of Hiltz preaching not only at the
Bonham Exchange but also in front of the Alamo, at an area college and
at a senior citizens home.
On a web page that features the video titled "Confronting Hypocrites
at the Bonham Exchange Gay Bar" Hiltz writes, "While preaching
outside of the Bonham Exchange some ‘religious’ people came
to cuss me out and ‘flash’ me along with throwing stuff. I
decided to confront the religious hypocrites head on." That video
was recorded in late June.
Another web site with the same video offers this description: "Open
Air Preaching to the Bonham Exchange, a well known gay oriented bar in
downtown San Antonio. We preach and confront all sin at the Bonham including
homosexuality, adultery, drunkenness, etc."
Since his interview with QSanAntonio on July 17, the two
web videos that featured Hiltz preaching outside the Bonham have dissapeared
from the Internet. They were previously available on YouTube, Viddler
and Vimeo. Videos of him preaching at other
They Only Yelled Louder
On the night of July 11, Officer Nash drove by the Bonham Exchange around
10 p.m. When he saw that Hiltz and Leibovitz were out there once again,
he warned that if he received any telephone complaints about them, he
would arrest them.
At 10:30 p.m., Officer Nash responded to a complaint called in by Carolyn
Rios who was out in front of the Bonham. Rios and two other witnesses
told Nash that Hiltz and Leibovitz were "annoying and embarrassing
them while they walked into the club by preaching directly to them."
Rios told Officer Nash that when she asked the duo to leave her alone
they only yelled more loudly at her. The police report says that the manager
of the Bonham was upset because he felt the two were chasing patrons away
from the club. Additionally, the report states that Hiltz and Leibovitz
told Rios and others to "go to hell."
Officer Nash writes that when he asked the pair to leave the area they
refused. That’s when he arrested them and took them into Police
headquarters on South Frio Street. The two were later freed on bail.
Hiltz told QSanAntonio that his and Leibovitz’ actions were in no
way connected to the International Bible College -- that they were acting
on their own. The police report lists their home address on the same street
where the college is located.