Pastor Tony Spell of Louisiana was arrested yesterday morning for assault charges stemming from an event earlier in the week, and then released a few hours later, according to reports.
Spell is the controversial Pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge, known for being one of the few churches left in America still have in-person services without any social distancing, weekly drawing hundreds of congregants.
While initially vowing he would never surrender to police for what he viewed as trumped-up charges, he eventually willingly turned himself into police custody the next day. It took 5 officers all standing in very close proximity to each other to handcuff him and lead him off.
Spell was charged with two misdemeanours. Aggravated assault against a protester and another, improper reversing. In the state of Louisiana, an aggravated assault occurs when a dangerous weapon is used, (the bus) and is punishable with up to 6 months in jail or a 1000$ fine, or both. Below is a video of the aggravated assault.
He was released a few hours later, around noon. Speaking got reporters and church members who had come to see him released, he stated
“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights. My rights to have church and to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ are endowed to me by my creator, not my district attorney, not my chief of police, and not my governor, not my president and not my department of justice. My inalienable rights are given to me by God and those rights are my rights to assemble and have church. I cannot give up those rights.”
In terms of the actually assault itself, Tony denies ever seeking to assault or harm the protester, Trey Bennet. In an interview with WAFM, Spell states that he was driving the bus up because he wanted to confront the protester, but his wife who was also in the bus at the time talked him out of it.
“That man has been in front of my church driveway for three weeks now….He shoots people obscene finger gestures and shouts vulgarities….I was pulling in from my bus route, picking up black children who haven’t eaten because of this sinister policy that has closed schools…. I was going to approach this gentleman and ask him to leave.”
The alleged victim of the assault repudiates Spell’s assessment of his actions and characterization. He denies ever using obscene gestures or cursing in the course of his protesting, stating that he’s only been behaving in a peaceful way. “I haven’t done anything of the sort. I just stand there with a sign. I don’t say anything to anybody,” said Bennet
The protester, for the record, is completely lying about his lack of harassment and his alleged peacefulness. Apart from holding signs that read ” CAUTION: Coronavirus incubator. Do not enter. You may die.” He does harass, make obscene gestures and use foul language, as can be seen here:
In the video, a woman parks behind the protester who goes on the offensive, shouting “Hey. You’re a Christian. That shows how f***** stupid you are” and then harangues her for a few minutes. The woman’s behaviour was also atrocious and hypocritical throughout the encounter, but it’s also evident Bennet is lying through his teeth about his alleged innocence.
After Pastor Spell was released, they had service last night as usual.
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