A Canadian pastor who had gone viral for forcefully criticizing the country’s coronavirus worship restrictions has been arrested again, this time for protesting outside the home of a government official.
Artur Pawlowski, the pastor of Street Church and the Cave of Adullam in Calgary, Alberta, who made videos documenting his multiple contentious exchanges with local law enforcement officials in the last year that went viral, was arrested Saturday along with his brother Dawid after protesting outside the home of Alberta Health Minister Jason Copping.
The arrest was conducted in a manner similar to the May 8 arrest of the two brothers, which took place on the middle of a busy street. As Pawlowski knelt on the road and refused to walk on his own, police officers carried him away.
Video of the arrest, shared on Pawlowski’s YouTube channel, shows police officers arresting the pastor after pulling him over on a busy highway. Pawlowski referred to one of the officers as a “Gestapo Nazi,” echoing his previous criticism of the government’s enforcement of coronavirus worship restrictions.
Once again, Pawlowski refused to walk as officers led him away in handcuffs, leading to them carrying him away as they did during his previous arrest.
In the moments leading up to the arrest, Pawlowski, a Polish immigrant to Canada, referred to his adopted country as “Chinada,” seeking to compare the actions of government officials to those taken by the Chinese Communist Party.
“We got pulled over again … for the second time in just 20 minutes, believe it or not. Why? Because we dared to be willing to voice our opinion peacefully at the minister of health’s … house,” he said.
A police officer informed the Pawlowski brothers that they were “suspected of being in breach” of the terms of the probation they are subject to in lieu of jail time for the May 8 arrest for holding an in-person church service in defiance of COVID-19 lockdown orders. In October, the Pawlowski’s avoided jail time and were ordered to pay $23,000 in fines and undergo 18 months of probation.
Specifically, the Pawlowskis are required to “obey all AHS Health Orders relating to COVID-19.” One of the officers indicated that the brothers were arrested for a “breach of public health orders,” suggesting that the protest outside the Alberta health minister’s house constituted an illegal public gathering.
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported Sunday that the Pawlowskis were released from detention on the condition that they stay away from Copping and his residence. The brothers’ lawyer told the news outlet that they “readily agreed to be bound by these conditions.”
When sharing a shortened video of the arrest, Ezra Levant of the pro-Pawlowski outlet Rebel News concluded that Calgary Police “could arrest him at his church or home” or “call his lawyer” and “have her bring him in.” Instead, he contends they chose “this showy spectacle, to terrify him and others.”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney released a statement implicitly expressing support for Pawlowski’s arrest. “All Albertans have a right to protest peacefully. That right does not extend to trespassing at private homes and harassing the families of public officials,” he said.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that fringe anti-vaccine conspiracy theorists have tried to intimidate government officials in this manner. I am sure that the vast majority of Albertans reject this kind of extremism,” Kenney added.
Pawlowski argued on Twitter that Kenney’s statement shows that the “government always fears the voice of the people.” He elaborated on the events that led to his arrest in a phone call from prison posted on his YouTube channel.
“Some people invited me to come to the protest outside in the neighborhood of the minister of health, and I’ve heard that there might be some anger,” he recalled. “I was invited to come … and pray and calm the people. So … when I joined them, I said no cursing, no swearing … no craziness here.”
After leaving the protest, which he characterized as “very peaceful,” Pawlowski encountered law enforcement.
“When we went into the car, we noticed that there’s lots of police cars that have blocked the roads and they started to pretend that they are doing a check stop,” he said. “A helicopter was flying during the rally, the peaceful vigil, so we knew that the police is monitoring and that the police is observing. … The whole thing is very peaceful, that there is absolutely nothing to worry about.”
Pawlowski maintained that the protest outside Copping’s home was necessary because “you can’t go … and tell him how you feel … because they’re hiding.”
“They’re not in session and even if they are, you’re not allowed to come in and see them. It’s total craziness,” he said.
“When we were attempting to drive home, the check stop was started, and they blocked the whole street and started to stop every car.”
Law enforcement officials performed a breathalyzer test on Dawid Pawlowski, who was driving the car. Pawlowski accused police of using the pretense of sobriety tests “as a tactical maneuver to … intimidate and to harass people that dared to voice their dissatisfaction with the corrupted, evil government, the Kenney tyrant government in the province of Alberta.”
“We were let go, and just five minutes later, a number of police vehicles stopped my brother in the middle of the highway, and they said that we are being arrested,” he continued. “I was handcuffed, arrested for breach, for mischief and for obstruction for whatever reason.”