- Pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother Dawid, were arrested on Saturday
- Their arrest came after they held a church service in Alberta, Canada, police said
- The Pawlowskis are accused of ‘organizing an illegal in-person gathering’
- In video, another man with them is heard calling police ‘Nazis’ and ‘Gestapo’
- Incident comes a month after the pastor’s confrontation with police went viral
A Canadian church leader whose Easter confrontation with police last month went viral was arrested on Saturday for allegedly violating a mandatory ban on gatherings amid the pandemic.
Pastor Artur Pawlowski and his brother, Dawid Pawlowski, were arrested Saturday by officers from the Calgary Police Service for ‘organizing an illegal in-person gathering’.
According to a statement from police, Pastor Pawlowski, who is the head of Calgary’s Street Church in Alberta, held a service that was in violation of a new court order obtained by Alberta Health Services (AHS) in relation to mandatory compliance of public health orders for gatherings.
Police said the AHS on Thursday obtained a Court of Queen’s Bench Order that applies to gatherings including protests, demonstrations and rallies.
The order imposes new restrictions on organizers of protests and demonstrations requiring compliance with public health orders including masking, physical distancing and attendance limits.
Officers enforced the order by ‘proactively serving an organizer of a church service with the court order in an effort to ensure that citizens attending the Saturday service were abiding by the current COVID-19 public health orders’.
Police said they did not enter the church during the service.
Authorities said Pawlowski ‘acknowledged the injunction, but chose to ignore requirements for social distancing, mask wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees, and continued with the event’.
As a result, the Pawlowskis were taken into custody 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.
Video of the arrest was shared on YouTube and showed the brothers accusing the officers of being Nazis and Gestapo.
The men are then instructed to exit their vehicle as Artur Pawlowski is seen on his knees in the middle of a roadway as officers place him under arrest.
The pastor appears to refuse to stand to his feet and walk to their patrol cars so the officers end up dragging him across the road. Officers are then seen picking up Dawid and carrying him over to a patrol car after placing him in handcuffs.
Another man, who was with the brothers and recorded the incident, is heard in the background shouting at the officers and calling them names like ‘cowards’ and ‘evil psychopaths’.
The incident comes just a month after the pastor went viral for his confrontation with Canadian police.
Last month, Pawlowski was leading a Passover service at a building known as the Fortress (Cave) of Adullam, when officers and city officials arrived.
In the footage, filmed by the pastor, several officers stand on the stairwell into the building while he orders them to ‘get out of this property immediately’.
‘I don’t want to hear anything… out immediately,’ he shouts, as a female officer appears to try and explain their presence.
‘I don’t care what you have to say, Out!,’ Pawlowski bawls, telling officers to leave ‘until you come back with a warrant’.
‘Out of this property, you Nazis,’ the pastor shouts. ‘Gestapo is not allowed here.’
The officers eventually exit the building with the pastor following behind.
‘Nazis are not welcome here,’ he shouts after the officers. ‘And don’t come out without a warrant.’
Pawlowski then turns the camera on himself for a lengthy rant, labelling officers ‘sick psychopath’s and accusing them of ‘coming to intimidate Christians during the holiest festival’.
The pastor, who often engages in open-air preaching and is known for his staunch opposition to homosexuality, abortion and Sharia law, shared the video on Twitter, writing: ‘Police came to disrupt Church gathering!
‘Gestapo came again to intimidate the Church parishioners during the Passover Celebration!!! Unbelievable!’
In a press release, Calgary Police Service said officers had been dispatched to ensure COVID-19 regulations were being followed.
‘The concern was that the people in attendance were not adhering to the government’s COVID-19 public health orders, which are in place to ensure everyone’s safety,’ police said in the release, noting ‘the organizer of the gathering was uncooperative’.
No tickets were issued at the time but police said it was possible they might be in the future.
‘It will be up to our partner agencies to determine subsequent enforcement activity in response to this situation.’
An AHS spokesperson told CTV News at the time that representatives attended the service to ‘observe whether the organization was following’ the province’s COVID-19 guidelines but could not complete their work because of the confrontation.
‘Our inspector was not granted access inside, so was unable to confirm if (Chief Medical Officer of Health) orders were being followed,’ said Marni Kuhlmann, senior communication advisor with AHS, in an email to CTV News.
‘Our inspectors have an important job to do and we ask that business owners and organizations treat them with respect. We stand by all of our public health inspectors who are doing an incredible job in trying and challenging circumstances,’ she said.
‘We expect that all places of worship across Alberta follow the CMOH restrictions and we thank everyone who continues to do their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 this holiday weekend and throughout the pandemic.’
Local media reported that Pawlowski has been charged multiple times under Alberta’s Public Health Act for breaching Covid-19 regulations.
Churches in the area can hold services but must keep attendance below 15 per cent and follow guidelines including wearing masks and social distancing.