Philly Jesus spent 12 hours behind bars after Philadelphia Police say he refused to leave the Center City Apple Store after he says he was discriminated against.
Philly Jesus, born Michael Grant, was inside the Apple Store on 1607 Walnut Street around 6:15 p.m. Monday. Investigators said employees asked him to remove a cross he had taken inside the store because it was blocking an aisle. Grant refused to remove the cross and he was then asked to leave the store, according to police. Investigators say Grant refused to leave after being asked three times. The store manager then contacted police.
Grant, 29, was arrested and charged with defiant trespassing and disorderly conduct.
After a night behind bars, Grant tweeted "I'm free at Last!! Thank God almighty!!!"
Grant used his iPhone (he jokes he has a family plan with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost) to talk about his 12 hours behind bars and what led to his arrest.
"This country was built on freedom of religion and I can go into a public place and be dressed as whoever I want and express myself however I want," Grant said.
"The same way an African-American human being in the 1960s would be singled out in a white only store and asked to leave, I 'Philly Jesus' was singled out in the Apple Store because of my visual faith I portray -- dressing up like Jesus holding my cross, said Grant. "An Apple employee, who was offended by my appearance and by my cross, asked me to leave because of who I am and what I represent -- because of my faith."
Grant claims he is a regular at the Center City Apple store.
"Nearly every day I go into the Apple Store to charge my phone on their 15 minute-use limit computer open to the public. Never once have I had a problem there over two years. After being in there for only a minute an employee asked me to leave because of who I am and me carrying my cross. I told him 'no.' I know my rights. I am allowed to use the laptops and charge my phone like everyone else there who was next to me doing so -- so me standing my ground, he brought the cops over and I told the cops the same thing: I am allowed to be here like anyone else on their 15 minute-use products to charge my phone and use their laptops. Then they locked me up, then I raised my voice freedom of religion!"
Grant said he sang "Locked up" by Akon as he was arrested.
Behind bars he says he was served a cheese sandwich and given some small bottle of water.
"But I changed 'em into wine," said Grant.
A judge arraigned Grant early Tuesday then released him on his own recognizance. He is due back in court May 17.
Grant said he "prays for my haters" and that God will have mercy on them.
Grant, a recovering heroin addict, is a popular figure among tourists and Philadelphia residents alike. In an interview with NBC10 last year, Grant says he has spent the past few years spreading the message of Christ through his “Philly Jesus Ministry.” During his ministry, Grant has preached his message to whoever is willing to listen and has even performed park fountain baptisms in Center City’s Love Park area.
"I plan on doing this for the rest of my life. And, as I age, and probably when I start to get white hairs and start to get gray hairs on my face, I'll morph into Philly Moses," Grant told NBC10 two years ago.
Apple referred NBC10 to Philadelphia Police for comment.