Preacher Artur Pawlowski, Who Hurled 'Nazi' Insults at Cops, Arrested for Flouting COVID Rules

Artur Pawlowski, a pastor from Alberta, Canada, was arrested Saturday for allegedly organizing a church service that ignored social distancing rules and where congregants were not wearing masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic—marking another confrontation with law enforcement following an April incident in which he described local police as "Nazis."

Prior to the incident, according to Calgary Police, Alberta Health Services got a "Court of Queen's Bench Order that applies to gatherings including protests, demonstrations and rallies. This order imposes new restrictions on organizers of protests and demonstrations requiring compliance with public health orders including masking, physical distancing and attendance limits."

Pawlowski was arrested alongside his brother Dawid for violating that order, Calgary Police said. It issued a statement Saturday that described the arrests, saying the "service organizer acknowledged the injunction, but chose to ignore requirements for social distancing, mask wearing and reduced capacity limits for attendees, and continued the event."

"As a result [of the Saturday service continuing], Artur Pawlowski and Dawid Pawlowski have both been arrested and charged with organizing an illegal in-person gathering, including requesting, inciting or inviting others to attend an illegal public gathering, promoting and attending an illegal public gathering," Calgary Police said in the statement.

The police also said that officers did not enter the church during the service, and that the order was issued prior to the gathering.

Canadian authorities have reiterated their support for "faith-based gatherings" across the country, but Calgary Police noted "we find ourselves in the midst of a global pandemic and we must all comply with public health orders."

In April, Pawlowski was seen in a video condemning local police and screaming comparisons to Nazi Germany at officers as they demanded parishioners leave Passover celebrations over their complete rebuke of COVID-19 regulations.

"I don't care what you have to say, out!" Pawlowski can be heard saying at the time. "Out of this property, you Nazis. Out! Gestapo is not allowed here. Do not come back, you Nazi psychopaths. Unbelievable sick, evil people. Intimidating people in the church during the Passover. You gestapo Nazi communist fascists!"

Christian leaders across the province and Canada expressed varying levels of criticism and support for Pawlowski in the wake of Saturday's protest and ensuing arrest.

"Nope. He wasn't arrested for "holding a church service". Hundreds of pastors are holding services today and still abiding by a law designed to PROTECT people from a deadly virus. He could too. He chooses himself over his neighbour. Church finance over church witness," tweeted Toronto Anglican priest, Daniel Brereton

Ontario-based Pastor Henry Hildebrandt tweeted Saturday in support of Pawlowski and the protesters: "Earlier this afternoon, my fellow pastor Artur Pawlowski was arrested in Calgary for the crime of holding a church service, as he does every Saturday morning. Are you awake yet? #standwithGod #freepastorartur."

Newsweek reached out to Pawlowski and local authorities for any additional details Sunday morning.

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Rows of Church Pews in an Empty Church Sanctuary - stock photo. Artur Pawlowski, a pastor from Alberta, Canada, was arrested Saturday for allegedly organizing a church service that ignored social distancing rules and where congregants were not wearing masks amid the COVID-19 pandemic istock/Getty/ChristinLola