February 18, 2009
City of Calgary
Office of the Mayor
Mayor Dave Bronconnier
Greetings. I am a resident of Calgary Alberta and have become aware of the issue in the city pertaining to what is known as the "Street Church" ministry, and its facilitator Mr. Artur Pawlowski.
I have viewed three videotaped incidents where there has been bi-law and city police officers in attendance at three separate Street Church functions.
In both of the videos there appears to be an excessive amount of city officials and vehicles present, who are administering such acts as parking or other violation tickets and decrees, arrests of Mr. Pawlowski and volunteers, confiscation of Street Church property such as bibles, sandwich board signs and materials.
In one of the videos Mr. Pawlowski is informed by an officer that he does not have permission to give away "free goods and services"; and is not permitted to be in the park where they were present.
I don’t understand the need for such a large "show" of city officials at what appears to be peaceful and "good Samaritan" events on the part of street church. I could understand the vast nature of attendance and intervention by the city to an issue of a serious criminal situation which poses a serious and actual threat to public safety. For example, an "escaped convict",who is considered "armed and dangerous", a sexual or serial predator, or a violent mob, and the like.
In these three episodes where there has been involvement from Calgary Police Service, I had difficulty seeing where some of the Core Values of the CPS were engaged: Fairness and compassion, respect, commitment. In addition I do not believe I witnessed the CPS Mission tools of "problem solving and positive community relations being utilized in one of the episodes.
In the three incidents there appears to be no violence perpetrated or retaliated on the part of Street Church volunteers, nor does there appear to be "violent mob-like behavior", requiring a large police presence and seemingly "excessive" intervention as such.
Examples , in addition of "excessive", may be the act of city officials confiscating property belonging to street church such as bibles, signs, etc. This act of confiscation appears to be equivalent in some ways to a citizen sitting in a Calgary public park , having a book or painting , etc beside them , then having a city official approach them and confiscate their private property.
I understand on one occasion Mr. Pawlowski was told by an officer that he did not have permission to give away free goods and services (ie: food). That statement seems parallel to having City of Calgary officers telling citizens that they are not allowed to go out their door, walk on city sidewalks to their neighbor’s house to give them a pie or plate of cookies.
Nor then would citizens be allowed to stand outside their houses on city sidewalks to share and give food or gifts to their neighbors and friends.
Nor would children be allowed to have lemonade stands in front of their homes in the summer.
I am quite concerned and dissatisfied that my and other citizens tax dollars for years now, are being spent in part on what appears to be city officials frequently attending, intervening and opposing a group of volunteers who seek to make a positive contribution in the City of Calgary.
This seems to be an irresponsible and inappropriate use taxpayers money on the part of the City of Calgary. I believe the City of Calgary could distribute the monies for other areas which may be deemed as higher and more appropriate priorities.
I would like to request and encourage the City of Calgary to work "peaceably" with Street Church as well as try to understand and support the positive and kind acts which they do.
Whether some of the "content" and or actions they express is agreed with or not, does not necessarily make what they are doing a crime.
In their way, Street Church, Artur Pawlowski, and their volunteers are dedicated to caring for the citizens of Calgary, Alberta.
Thank you for your consideration