Canadian Pastor Artur Pawlowski, who kicked police out of his church after they tried to shut down a worship service during Holy Week, and his brother, Dawid Pawlowski, have been arrested for holding an “illegal” in-person gathering as per COVID-19 limits set by a new court order.
Referring to the Pawlowskis of Street Church in Calgary, Alberta, Calgary Police Service said in a statement that its officers “lawfully enforced” the court order by arresting the two men after church.
A video posted on YouTube shows that Calgary Police Service sent at least five police vehicles to arrest the two from on the street. The brothers knelt on the road and refused to walk on their own during the arrest.
A voice can be heard telling the officers, “Shame on you guys, this is not communist China. Don’t you have family and kids? Whatever happened to ‘Canada, God keep our land glorious and free?’”
In its statement, Calgary Police Service said it “proactively” served “an organizer of a church service with the court order to ensure that citizens attending the Saturday service were abiding by the current COVID-19 public health orders.”
“This order imposes new restrictions on organizers of protests and demonstrations requiring compliance with public health orders including masking, physical distancing and attendance limits,” it said.
The Pawlowski brothers “have both been arrested and charged with organizing an illegal in-person gathering, including requesting, inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal public gathering, promoting and attending an illegal public gathering,” it added.
Calgary Police Service claimed that law enforcement “recognizes people’s desire to participate in faith-based gatherings as well as the right to protest” but that it is seeking “to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.”
Artur Pawlowski, who was born in Poland and lived under Soviet rule during part of his childhood, shared a video documenting police visiting his church last month.
In that video, Pawlowski can be seen calmly greeting the officials at the front door. The public health officer presented Pawlowski with a warrant, possibly hoping to avoid the type of confrontation that unfolded three weeks ago during the Holy Week. He told them not to come back without a warrant.
As he videotaped the encounter, one of the police officers accompanying the public health officer told Pawlowski, “you don’t have to get into her personal space,” as he attempted to zoom his phone in on the paperwork.
“You’re in my personal space,” Pawlowski responded.
When the public health officer requested to “explain” why she was there, Pawlowski remarked that he was “not really interested in what you have to say.” He agreed, however, to read over the paperwork she gave to him.
“What we want to do is make sure that we’re not going to disrupt any of the religious service,” she said. She expressed a desire to “explain the order, serve the order and then we can stand in the back.”
“No, no, no, no, no, no! You can contact my lawyer,” he replied. “My lawyer takes care of this. I’m not interested to listen to any word you have to say. I do not cooperate with Gestapo. I do not talk to the Nazis. You came in your uniforms like thugs. That’s what you are.”
Pawlowski also referred to the officials as “brown shirts” and “Nazi Gestapo communist fascists,” reiterating that “I do not cooperate with Nazis.”
Calgary Police Service released a statement at the time suggesting that their presence at the church was justified because of a concern that “people in attendance were not adhering to the government’s COVID-19 public health orders, which are in place to ensure everyone’s safety.”
In the previous video, which showed police trying to shut down the church during Holy Week, Pawlowski received plaudits from people worldwide for his actions in forcefully ordering law enforcement officers — including a police officer and public health officer — off the church’s property after they interrupted a Passover mass.
The video documenting his encounter with the local law enforcement went viral, receiving more than 3 million views.
Throughout the video, Pawlowski is seen telling law enforcement officials to “get out.” He also commanded that they “don’t come back without a warrant” and called them “Gestapo” and “Nazi psychopaths.” About a minute after the video started, they began to depart from the property.