Hundreds gather to protest police barricading Canadian church for defying COVID rules
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EDMONTON, Alberta, April 12, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – A Canadian church that was barricaded by police for defying coronavirus health rules saw supporters gather in protest in front of the shuttered place of worship Sunday. The vast majority of those on site sang hymns, with only a handful tearing down of a portion of fencing that was later put back up.
The protest took place at the site of Grace Life Church (Grace Life) located near Edmonton, Alberta. At the church was an estimated gathering of more than 1,000 people, according to media reports, who were there to protest the closure of the church by Alberta Health Services (AHS) with the help of local police last Wednesday.
In the early hours of the protest on Sunday, some people – whom Grace Life made clear were not affiliated with the church – tore a portion of fencing down. A video of the incident was widely shared on social media.
The fence is coming down pic.twitter.com/gFCroOuhin— Laura Krause (@LauraKrauseNews) April 11, 2021
However, police quickly put the fence back up with the help of some of the protesters, according to local media.
Social media posts from the protest showed a heavy police presence at Grace Life that some claimed in social media posts were in the “hundreds.”
Many of those who showed up in support of Grace Life came from a convey that started in Calgary earlier in the day. Throughout Sunday morning and afternoon, numbers continued to grow at the protest.
Canadian police constructed a barricade around Grace Life last Wednesday. The church had until that point stayed open despite a local health order mandating its closure. Its pastor, James Coates, had refused to comply with draconian coronavirus regulations. Grace Life members met this past Sunday in an undisclosed location while protesters were at the barricaded church property.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), the legal representatives for Grace Life, issued a statement on Sunday on behalf of the church, saying their congregants were not part of the protests.
“Grace Life Church appreciates the public outpouring of support to fully open churches in Alberta. Grace Life Church congregants were not at the protest that occurred on Sunday, April 11, 2021 near the Church’s facility. Grace Life Church recognizes the place for peaceful protest within the context of a democracy,” said the Centre on behalf of Grace Life in the statement.
In the statement, the attorneys added that they have “no control of our Church or grounds at this time” and the church property is “fully under the responsibility and control of the RCMP and Alberta Health Services.”
“The closing of the Grace Life facility has understandably resulted in significant public outrage and caused even larger crowds to gather in one place. Albertans have a constitutional right to assemble, associate, and worship. By taking the measures the government has, while the matter is still pending before the Courts, the Alberta Government has created an even more divisive situation.”
“It is time to end these unscientific, unjustified and arbitrary lockdown measures.”
Coates told LifeSiteNews late last week that he, along with his congregation, would not be gathering at Grace Life on Sunday.
The Parkland RCMP issued a statement regarding the Sunday protests outside of Grace Life, claiming they were on site to keep to “act to preserve the peace and maintain public safety.”
“The RCMP will use only the level of intervention necessary to ensure the safety of all citizens and to maintain peace, order, and security,” RCMP said.
“The RCMP uses necessary measures to protect the fundamental freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression, to promote the safety of all citizens, to enforce laws and to maintain peace and order. In turn, it must be recognized that while everyone has a right to peaceful freedom of expression; the general public, local residents and businesses also have the right to a safe environment.”
Coates said of the barricading of his church last Wednesday that for him the real “shock factor” came when he was thrown in jail.
“I think the shock factor was breached when I ended up behind bars, so at this point in time, we’re well into the shock factor,” Coates told LifeSiteNews.
“Them seizing our facility is just another step in the saga of our government going toe to toe with the king and Lord of Lords.”
Current Alberta COVID rules state that churches and other places of worship can operate at no more than 15 percent of the capacity allowed by the building fire code. Masks are mandatory, as are the sanitation of hands and keeping away from other people.
Last week in an unprecedented political move, 17 UCP MLAs blasted UCP Premier Jason Kenney for taking the province back into a severe lockdown.
According to the Western Standard, the unnamed UCP MLA said that public discontent has shaken the confidence of the Alberta government under Kenney.
Another report highlighted how a Canadian provincial politician said that it was under the direct order of Alberta’s Health Minister that Grace Life was raided and fenced off.
Independent MP Derek Sloan launched a petition calling for the immediate opening of Grace Life, which as of today has more than 8,000 signatures.
With a population of more than 4.3 million, Alberta has recorded roughly 160,000 positive tests for COVID-19. However, only about 2,000 cases resulted in death.