It was the third time this fall that Art Pawlowski and his street church held a prayer and singing service inside City Hall.
But after being warned the last time that they must apply, like everyone else, to hold an organized event in the atrium, city officials say they refused to comply.
“They failed to apply and the police were notified after last week’s event,” said Owen Key, the city’s manager of corporate security.
“They repeated that today, again not submitting an application through the approved process, choosing to hold this service again in the atrium.”
Church members were escorted out by police, but then returned in an attempt to speak to Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
That’s when six people were arrested for trespassing, which carries a $287 fine. All were released and issued court summonses.
It is the latest in a series of battles between Pawlowski and city. Over the years the preacher has been ticketed multiple times for things like using voice amplification without a permit.
“You cannot brush us like a fly, hoping that we disappear,” Pawlowski said after his release from custody. “We’re not disappearing and we proved it over and over again. This is eight years of the Street Church ministry.”
Pawlowski pointed to comments made by Nenshi this fall that the City Hall atrium should be “Calgary’s living room,” remarks the street preacher has interpreted as an invitation to groups like his.
“I want the city to acknowledge my rights and the rights of Christians and until then, we’re going to keep pushing, keep fighting for our rights,” Pawlowski said.
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