Mx. Lawrence described the ordeal to nearly 200,000 followers in a series of TikTok videos, including one in which they donned “protective jewelry” and a black “structured blazer” reminiscent of ravens’ wings to prepare for the visit.
Mx. Lawrence said the visit from Chief Martin and another officer was “intimidating.”
“Basically, he didn’t give me any advice or anything,” Mx. Lawrence said, adding that the message was, “Hey, just so you know, this is the law.”
The Hanover Police Department said on Friday that Chief Martin was not available to comment.
News of his appearance at the shop, which Mx. Lawrence said is one of at least four “metaphysical” stores in Hanover, was reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer and widely shared on social media, fueling questions about the use of taxpayer money, what constitutes a good use of police time and whether the visit amounted to a suppression of religious freedom.
Chief Martin defended the visit in a post on Facebook.
He referred to the law, Title 18, Section 7104, which says it is a misdemeanor to pretend, “for gain or lucre, to tell fortunes or predict future events, by cards, tokens, the inspection of the head or hands of any person, or by the age of anyone, or by consulting the movements of the heavenly bodies.”
In his statement, the chief said “there was never an investigation, nor was there any threat of arrest in this matter.” But the department would be obligated to investigate, he said, “if a complaint was made against someone for engaging in acts qualifying as ‘fortunetelling.’”