Controversial street pastor banned from City Hall for one year

Art Pawlowski challenges authorities

By Jason Markusoff, Calgary Herald January 24, 2012 4:48 PM

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Street Church preacher Art Pawlowski, seen here in May 2008, has become enmeshed in another feud with city hall, after he and his supporters were arrested Tuesday for trespassing following a short-lived prayer circle in the atrium of the Municipal Building.

Photograph by: Stuart Gradon, Calgary Herald

A street pastor notorious for run-ins with authorities got himself banned from City Hall for one year — but he was goading police to do much more to him during a protest Tuesday.

“Sir, why you came — to intimidate us with your guns, with your handcuffs, with your authority?” Art Pawlowski asked police, after a city security official, whom he branded a “criminal,” handed him the prohibition notice.

For the second time in as many months, Pawlowski held a lunch-hour gathering with his street church followers in City Hall’s atrium, singing faith-tinged verses and decrying loudly past security actions and the rules for event permits, which the group pointedly flouted.

Last month, he was arrested and given a 30-day “no trespassing” notice. This second offence garners a steeper penalty. As police and security officials asked the group to leave, Pawlowski dropped to his knees and began yelling that their treatment was unconstitutional.

“Fine, do your duty sir,” the pastor said.

“I don’t have to pick you up and carry you out,” a police officer replied.

“Then are you going to taser me? What are you going to do?”

After a lengthy encounter complete with other heated language, police escorted a few of Pawlowski’s fellow protest participants but arrested nobody.

In defiance of his ban, Pawlowski said he’ll return with his prayer circle next week.

Before the latest fracas, Calgary had spent more than $65,000 on a bylaw fight over Pawlowski’s use of loudspeakers in his outdoor preaching. He had challenged the constitutionality of the city’s bylaws, but a Court of Queen’s Bench judge last year ruled his religious freedoms weren’t being impeded, overturning a lower court’s decision.

Pawlowski regularly holds free barbecues outside City Hall, and preaches Christianity to the homeless people waiting in line for the food.

jmarkusoff@calgaryherald.com

 

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