Letter to Corporate Security-Law Department
Street Church Ministries
1740 – 25A Street SW Calgary, AB T3C 1J9
November 5, 2009
Manager, Corp Security
Through recent months, corporate security has been video taping our peaceful protests. We feel that this represents an intimidation tactic on the part of City Hall with a goal to accumulate a case against us. This was confirmed by statements made by Steve Patterson, by which he stated that, in fact, City Hall needs documentation of our “illegal” activities, like: illegally feeding the homeless, preaching the gospel and publicly and peacefully demonstratiing, (with the intent of stating that our rights under the Charter are violated).
Today, we again want to emphasize that our presence at City Hall is to let the public know about the denial of our rights and about certain bylaws in Calgary which are completely unconstitutional. The public needs to know about that which is happening behind closed doors that effect their rights and the rights of Calgary’s poorest citizens. We state that it is our fundamentally guaranteed right, not only to continue what this ministry is all about (preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and providing hope and necessities of life for the poor), but also to protest.
Recent concerns revealed to us by corporate security advisor Steve Patterson, regarding line-ups outside the old City Hall building, are exaggerated and unreasonable, yet instead of opposing Corporate Security, we decided to show once again that we are reasonable and willing to work with them, even if concerns are unfounded. Mr. Patterson, informed us that the particular concern was that the line-up of homeless people was posing a fire hazard and an obstruction/blockage in the event of a fire. To be clear, our line-ups were fifty feet away from the doors of the municipal building, leaving ample room for escape in the event of a fire.
The “blockage”, as referred to by Mr. Patterson, are human beings, capable of moving at a moments notice in the event of an emergency of any kind. Of course, the homeless are at the heart of our ministry, and if our ministry’s rights are being denied, so are their rights being denied. Our right to serve these people, being denied us, denies them the right to basic necessities of life, since many of these individuals are banned for life from Calgary’s homeless shelters. The intention of the ministry is not to create a blockage, but rather to bring the homeless crisis, and their day to day difficulties to light, for all to see what is really happening in Calgary.
Never the less, we decided to show, once again, that this ministry was always, and is, willing to work with the different departments of Calgary’s administration, for the common good of all. A collective decision was made, that even though we did not feel that the claims were warranted, and that, in the words of some of Calgary’s aldermen, Street Church Ministry’s presence does not obstruct access to, or from, the municipal building, to move an additional thirty feet away from the steps as an act of good will.
The recent proposal from Corporate Security, of a muzzle bylaw, just proves again that your department was never interested in preserving and upholding citizens democratic rights, but rather to dictate and muzzle anyone that dares to stand up for his God, and state, given rights. For our part, the struck down proposed act, to unconstitutionally restrict peaceful protest, appears to be have been directed squarely at our ministry, in an attempt to stop us from peacefully demonstrating. To put it plainly, this is one of the most shameful acts directed against God’s laws and the free and democratic Dominion of Canada.
What kind of a position would such a law put protesters, such as ourselves in? After all, if we could no longer protest outside of City Hall, where would we be able to protest in order to drive the points we are making home? Would we have to protest outside of the personal homes of each of the aldermen, or the mayor, taking our line-ups of homeless with us, shouting and chanting and stirring their ridings? That wouldn’t be good for anyone. Protests are meant for City Hall, and government buildings.
We thank God daily for the stance of some of Calgary’s aldermen to protect fundamental freedoms, from erosion, such as the essential freedom of peaceful assembly.
Let us make ourselves very clear again, We are trying everything we can to make our uncomfortable situation of having to protest for our rights as reasonable and co-operative as we can without removing the impact of the protest. We moved the line-up and we make sure that the “fire hazard” is not an issue, by ensuring that it does not block the entrance to the building and that the pedestrian traffic on the sidewalks flow without problems.
We understand that some of Calgary’s homeless people make more privileged people uncomfortable, due to their condition of being smelly, dirty, unkempt, and even seemingly at times uncivilized, but the truth remains, that these people are valid citizens with equal rights, and they need to be helped out of their situation. We plead with the City again, let’s become co-workers in helping the poor. We believe that together, we would be able to rescue, a lot more people from their dire situations.
If there is anything else that needs to be done in order to comply with procedures we are willing to work with you, as long as it does not remove the desired effect of our protest.
Artur Pawlowski on behalf of Street Church Ministries
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth