Hey! City! Leave That Street Preacher Alone!
Despite all the money the city of Calgary has spent in pursuing charges against a local street preacher – and despite a resounding defeat in court – the city is not giving up.
City lawyers are now before a judge arguing that the lower court should not have aquitted Art Pawlowski. However, the Province of Alberta accepted that ruling and is not part of this appeal.
The city’s argument is that this is all about noise, and the public’s right to not be disturbed. They claim that after noise complaints in 2006 and 2007, Pawlowski was prohibited from using speaker systems in his 2007 permit for gatherings near the downtown Drop-In Centre
It is certainly legitimate for a municipality to adopt and enforce noise bylaws.
But it seems as though the case is about much more than noise.
Indeed, as the lower court judge noted in acquitting Pawlowski, the accused was not before the court on any noise violations.
That judge expressed his concern with the the actions of city officials, and suggested that the city went too far in going after the street preacher.
Pawlowski claims he needed the amplification system to get his message across to those who had gathered to hear him.
If this street preacher – or anyone else – is violating noise bylaws, then city officials can and should issue them a ticket.
But it seems as though the case against the street preacher has come awfully close to persecution and harrassment, and the city should just drop the case and move on.
Rob Breakenridge 10/8/2010
Rob, it’s funny, even when you make it abundantly clear, in your article, that the charges were not noise charges people still don’t get the point.
The ministry was not too loud, or they would have been fined for being to loud. In all the years the ministry has been on the streets, they have not received one ticket for being to loud. I know because I personally looked in to the matter, and didn’t just form an opinion from sound bites and sometimes biased media reports.
The police fined the ministry for placing objects on the ground (tables from which to serve food and clothes), placing signs in a park (letting people know that they were a church and not there to sell anything), giving away free goods and services (feeding homeless people), gathering a crowd (the homeless people), etc, etc… but no excessive noise charges for breaking noise levels, and in legal documents Bylaw Officers, in fact, stated the ministry was well within noise bylaws.
Rob, is anyone getting it? People shouldn’t care if these people are Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Atheist or whatever, it’s about the City targeting a group and harassing them; trying to shut them up or shut them down, whichever would come first.
They tried intimidation tactics, then they tried fines, then arrests, then showing up at the pastors personal residence, then courts (including hundreds of thousands of dollars legally defending themselves), and then when the courts say the City, to any impartial observer, abused their power, people still say things that truly show their anti-Christian bias, and no Rob, I am not including you in that comment.
Let me say it once and for all, the ministry is serving the homeless, four times a week on the streets and has been for years, come rain, hail, snow, heat wave or temperate weather. They go into the roughest areas to bring a message of hope and necessities to those who desperately need them.
I agree with Rob… City, pack up and move on and while your at it show the taxpayers the bill for the open persecution of a ministry dedicated to the poor. Oh and how about reimbursing them for your wrong doing?
Thanks for the soapbox, God bless
A concerned Calgarian