Letter concerning the surveillance at a drive-in church by John Schwartzentruber

Published May 1, 2020

Honorable Jeff Yurek,

St. Thomas, ON.

Dear Mr. Yurek,

With regard to the Aylmer police openly conducting surveillance at the drive-in church service at the Aylmer-area Church of God:

1) How are the actions, as described by various media sources, of the service attendees in any way more of a public health threat than parking in a mall parking lot?

2) The optics for law enforcement are terrible on this one, intimidating harmless people of faith for doing nothing wrong or even remotely unlawful.

3) How can the citizenry be expected to retain respect for law enforcement when such arbitrary, unjustifiable action erodes trust?

4) Is there an underlying bias against people of faith in this circumstance?  Should there be an investigation into the chief’s personal views on religion?

5) Is the Aylmer chief of police, as well as the government, aware of the effect of creating greater publicity on this issue, resulting from extremely distasteful and inconsistent police actions?

The people met; by reports from the police themselves, no one violated any law during these services; no harm was done, no one was harmed.

The people of Ontario have responded admirably to the restrictions that are in place to protect their well being during this time. However, they are understandably becoming restless under the increasingly ugly effect that quarantine is having on their movements and usual activities. So, to remove one more right and harmless activity seems counter-productive. Why needlessly risk provoking an unwanted reaction from less innocent groups by pushing things to far?

Therefore, it would seem prudent that there be urgent discussion held with all the appropriate bodies to dissipate the inevitable fallout that will result from wrongful law enforcement actions.

If this proceeds to court action, this situation cannot result in a win for civil liberties or for law enforcement, regardless of the outcome.

It is to be hoped that clear minds will stop the overreach.

Sincerely yours,

John Schwartzentruber, Brussels, ON.

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