A Canadian pastor who was arrested for violating pandemic lockdown measures will seem in courtroom on Wednesday after spending every week in jail.
On Sunday February 14, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Alberta Health Services visited Pastor James Coates’ GraceLife Church in Parkland County, situated west of Edmonton. There, they decided that the church was defying COVID-19 restrictions, which requires locations of worship to be operated at 15 p.c capability and mask-use for congregants.
Two days later, on February, 16, Coates turned himself in to authorities and was charged with two counts of contravening the Public Health Act and one legal cost. Following a bail listening to, Coates was to be launched on circumstances, however he refused to agree to these circumstances and has since remained in custody. An RCMP spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek that Coates was nonetheless in custody on Monday night.
As Coates continued to refuse the circumstances of his bail, “a Judge’s Order was issued compelling him to attend courtroom on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021,” the RCMP stated in a press release. Coates is predicted to stay in custody till the courtroom listening to.
“We’ve been constant in our method of escalated ranges of enforcement with Pastor Coates, and we had been hopeful to resolve this difficulty in a special method,” stated Inspector Mike Lokken, detachment commander of the Parkland RCMP. “The Pastor’s actions, and the next results these actions may have on the well being and security of residents, dictated our response in this case.”
He added: “To be very clear, the RCMP’s goal will not be to interrupt church companies, prohibit companies, nor deny peoples’ proper to apply their faith—merely to make sure that public well being restrictions are adhered to whereas doing so.”
The church has been accused of repeatedly holding in-person companies past the designated capability. The RCMP informed Newsweek that their investigation into GraceLife Church was ongoing as of Monday.
Coates has been allegedly violating COVID-19 lockdown measures since December, when the RCMP first issued the pastor with a violation ticket. The RCMP and Public Health Inspector attended a service on February 7 and located that the premises was “over double the present restricted capability degree,” in accordance to a press launch.
Authorities didn’t disrupt the church proceedings, however afterward, they arrested Coates and launched the pastor with a courtroom look date.
Upon returning to the church to examine for compliance, the RCMP on February 14 decided that GraceLife Church was nonetheless not following lockdown measures. Coates was additionally discovered to have flouted his endeavor launch circumstances.
James Kitchen, Coates’ lawyer, claims that his consumer had by no means agreed to the February 7 endeavor to adhere to public well being measures. Coates actions had been “not about simply wanton rebeling,” he stated, in accordance to CBC News. “It is about doing what’s clever to them and what maintains their freedoms, however most significantly what’s in the end honouring to their god that they consider in.”
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