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Louisiana pastor Tony Spell was arrested Tuesday morning on charges of alleged aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. When he was released from the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison he was greeted by well-wishers from his Life Tabernacle Church, WAFB9 reports.
According to police, Spell allegedly backed up a church bus in the path of a person who was protesting in front of his church Sunday. Video shows the bus stopping barely short of where the protester, Trey Bennett, was standing.
“At first I thought [Spell] was just turning around his bus and was going to pull away, but he just kept coming in reverse,” Bennett said. “I could see him driving the bus. He was honking his horn loudly at me and making gestures suggesting he was yelling while he was driving. It didn’t seem real until it was physically in my face with a bus.”
Spell originally wanted police to meet him in front of his church, but Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran declined that, saying he wanted to avoid additional hoopla from the media. Spell was told to turn himself in to the police station, but the building is closed. He was subsequently arrested in the parking lot.
Upon his release, Spell maintained his defiance, telling the faithful that he wasn’t going to stop church services despite the coronavirus outbreak.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and are endowed by the creator with certain inalienable rights,” he said. “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.”
He wrapped things up by saying he will hold church services Tuesday evening.
“Thank God for my church who stands with me today,” he said.