LAS VEGAS, NV – Dozens of Raelians were forced to leave McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas Saturday afternoon under threat of arrest, but the police officers involved refused to say on what grounds the group’s presence was deemed undesirable.
The Raelians were awaiting the arrival of their spiritual leader, Rael.
Las Vegas resident Ricky Roehr, a Raelian bishop and the Raelian Movement’s North American Continental Guide, was among those threatened with arrest by Las Vegas Metro officers called to the scene by Socrates Cherry, an airport services coordinator.
Roehr called the arrest threat “a clear case of religious discrimination.” He said Raelians have gathered to greet Rael at the same airport without incident for the previous 20 years.
“Does anyone think Mr. Cherry or the Las Vegas police department would have threatened to arrest Buddhists coming to welcome the Dalai Lama before one of his seminars?” Roehr asked. “Saturday sets a dangerous precedent! And what about the fans of any of the hundreds of celebrities – some of them pretty controversial – who come through the Vegas airport? Would Mr. Cherry and the Las Vegas Metro officers think to arrest them for assembling peacefully to greet someone as we did on Saturday? Of course not!”
Roehr said none of the Raelians in the group caused any disturbance whatsoever, and that Saturday’s airport incident is far from resolved.
“We’ve asked our attorneys to sue both the Las Vegas police department and the Las Vegas airport authority for religious discrimination and abuse of power, both denying our constitutional rights,” he said. “We’re also asking them to apologize publicly, especially for the behavior of the police officer who was very rude toward Raelians right in front of our beloved religious leader, Rael himself. And we’re filing complaints with both McCarran Airport and Las Vegas Metro. For some reason, they carried out the bidding of Mr. Cherry, who apparently doesn’t know the first thing about religion, religious freedom, or the rights of free speech and freedom of expression. He didn’t even want to know why we were there. We’re also informing the ACLU about this dangerous precedent of denying religious freedom at a public airport.”
He added that he plans to ask Raelians to oppose this denial of fundamental rights guaranteed by the US Constitution by protesting publicly in front of Las Vegas Metro Police Department headquarters and at McCarran International Airport.
Hundreds of Raelians from the United States and Canada, plus others from Europe, Japan, and other Asian countries, are expected to arrive in Las Vegas within the next few days to attend a special three-day celebration with Rael that begins on Friday, December 12.