A day that began with a spin on the ice for Philly Jesus ended with him in handcuffs.
“I bring the story of Jesus, the same way they bring it to the movies I bring it to the street,” Michael Grant told NBC10.com.
Grant, aka Philly Jesus, is a sort of Center City celebrity — the City of Brotherly Love’s pious answer to Times Square’s Naked Cowboy — as he walks around in the area of LOVE Park with a long beard, long hair and robe taking photos, sharing scripture and even, occasionally, baptizing people.
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Grant was in his normal Jesus get-up when he took up an offer Friday to skate for free on the ice at the new Dilworth Plaza rink, a moment captured on Philly Jesus’ Instagram feed.
After the skate, Grant said he went across the street to his normal post in iconic LOVE Park and that’s where he had an altercation with a Philadelphia police officer over accepting money for photos.
Grant tweeted about his early afternoon arrest after a couple of hours in police custody.
People come up to me and ask me to take pics with them and for them..I tell them i Dnt charge but tips are welcome. cop said u r solicitin — phillyjesus (@phillyjesus) November 14, 2014
Philadelphia court records show that Grant faces summary counts of disorderly conduct and failure to disperse charges.
While he was in police custody, fans took to Twitter and Instagram to "Free Philly Jesus."
Early Friday evening, Philly Jesus was "free my dudes" and reflecting on what led to his arrest.
Grant, a recovering drug addict, spoke to NBC10.com's Alison Burdo earlier this year about how he came to become Philly Jesus after becoming sober last year.
"I considered myself completely healed and cured when I surrendered my heart to Jesus Christ," he said.
Grant claims the officer who arrested him recognized him from when Grant used drugs. Grant said the officer accused him of soliciting.
“I tell people I do not charge but tips and donations are always welcome,” said Grant.
Grant said he recited scripture while being taken to the police station.
“I’m going to fight this,” Grant said.
Philadelphia police didn’t respond to NBC10’s request for comment on the arrest.