Police tell gospel singer she ‘cannot sing her songs outside of church grounds’

9 February 2024

A gospel singer has been told that she could not sing Christian worship songs on Oxford Street in London.

Harmonie London, 20, who has over 300,000 YouTube subscribers, was confronted on Sunday 28 January by a volunteer police officer and threatened with having her piano and belongings confiscated. Five other police officers were also present.

Harmonie had been singing John Newton’s Amazing Grace and Goodness of God – a contemporary song by Bethel Music released in 2019 – and said there had not been ‘any type of complaint or noise nuisance’.

Video footage has revealed Special Constable Hadzhipetkova saying to Harmonie: “No, miss, you’re not allowed to sing church songs, you know, allowed to sing church songs outside. You’re not allowed to sing outside of church (outside the church grounds) unless you have authorisation”.

Shocked and confused, Harmonie replied: “Are you saying that you don’t care about the Human Rights Act… I really think you were allowed to do it anywhere”.

SC Hadzhipetkova said, “No, miss, you’re not allowed”.

A crowd that had been watching Harmonie sing repeatedly asked police to allow her to continue to perform, saying: ‘This is a Christian country.’

Intimidated and fearing arrest, Harmonie quickly packed up her equipment and followed SC Hadzhipetkova down Oxford Street seeking clarity.  She asked again: “Are you saying that you don’t care about the Human Rights Act?” The officer just laughed and stuck her tongue out.

Harmonie said she had handed police documents printed from the Christian Concern website which stated her legal rights to perform, but the police ‘didn’t care’.

The footage went viral on social media, sparking outrage from the public and a number of commentators.

Following an investigation, the police issued a brief statement and a rare apology for ‘causing offence’.

The incident is the latest in a series of cases involving Christian street evangelists being intimidated by and even arrested by the police for expressing their faith in public.

In recent weeks and months, the police have allowed a wave of mass antisemitic marches with protestors even calling for ‘Jihad’ in London, including on Oxford Street, without taking any action.

‘I was sharing the Good News’

Harmonie said: “I sing gospel to glorify God. I’m just literally following the Bible, sharing the Good News. It’s just an opportunity to witness to non-believers as well.

“I don’t approach people. I don’t force people to listen. I sing and they can choose to listen – and if they don’t, they can choose to move on. A big crowd formed, they were literally begging the police to leave me alone.

She continued: “I packed up my stuff. I didn’t want to argue with them. They weren’t interested in anything I had to say. When I mentioned human rights, that’s when she stuck her tongue out.

“Another officer was making jokes saying: ‘I’ll go and do some crime then, catch some criminals’ – trying to make a joke of it.

“Even when I packed up, [the Special Constable] stood there saying ‘are you going’?

“She didn’t even want me to stand on the pavement. She was bullying me and it was very intimidating.

“I’m a quiet person. Although I sing, I don’t really like attention and that’s not the sort of attention I seek. I felt like my freedom as a Christian didn’t matter, especially when she was saying that ‘you can’t sing church music’.

 “The last thing I want is to upset people and cause a nuisance. I generally go there for 30 minutes and sing gospel music.

The Bible encourages people to ‘sing God’s praises’ and that is what I will continue to do.”

“She blesses the streets”

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “One of my favourite things as I commute to work is to hear Harmonie’s beautiful worship. She blesses tens of thousands of people in the same way and brings harmony to the streets. We need more of this, not less. It is shocking that she has been treated like this.”

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