Police closely monitor Easter street service
Armed with ticket books and handing out various violations, bylaw officers kept a watchful eye on yesterday’s Street Church Easter service.
Ongoing controversy between the City of Calgary and preacher Artur Pawlowski of the Street Church Ministries prompted the visit from bylaw services at Triangle Park, near the drop-in centre.
"We’re just keeping an eye on things and watching out for public safety. We’re actually hoping that nothing too exciting happens today," said bylaw services operations co-ordinator Andrew Bissett, adding they were watching for jaywalking and parking violations, among other things.
According to Bissett and bylaw services, Pawlowski had his permit to preach revoked last year and the street sermon was taking place yesterday unlawfully.
"He has no permit to use this space and we will be issuing him another summons today because he is not supposed to be here," he said.
But Pawlowski disagrees, calling the violations and summons nothing short of "harassment."
"We have a right to gather and we have a right to preach and we have a right to feed the poor and homeless. In fact, we have an obligation," Pawlowski said, claiming his volunteers will feed up to 1,000 people Easter dinner.
"They are here to shut us down. They are going to issue a summons today and it’s getting ridiculous, it’s crazy," Pawlowski added.
The ongoing feud began after Pawlowski’s permit was taken away due to his use of amplification, bylaw boss Bill Bruce previously told Metro.
"We have given multiple summons and tickets because there was never any correction of the behaviour. They have to work within the rules and regulations that everyone else has to follow," Bruce said.
But one man who received a jaywalking ticket at yesterday’s service said it felt like they were out to get them specifically.
"They gave me a ticket the minute I stepped off the sidewalk, without warning. Why don’t they warn people first," the man said, who didn’t want to use his name.
The city is filing an injunction against the street church on March 31 to stop the gatherings until the case is heard by a higher court.
Pawlowski also made news recently after filing a human rights complaint against the City of Calgary, naming Mayor Dave Bronconnier and Bylaw boss Bill Bruce, among others in the grievance.