Due to a large amount of misinformation being spread regarding the protests at GraceLife Church, we wanted to provide a few facts to bring clarity to the situation of what happened yesterday.
Late Saturday Evening: Congregants were contacted by the elders and other members informing them that the church had moved to an undisclosed location, well away from the church building. This was a location that was sympathetic to the congregation and would allow them to have their service. While some were speculating that police were going to surveil church leaders early Sunday morning to see where they would be gathering, no police or members of Alberta Health Services were present on scene.
Early Sunday Morning: Several caravans left from various cities throughout the province, with the biggest coming from Calgary, and passing through Red Deer, the halfway point, gaining participants, until about 100 vehicles arrived at their destination near the Church. Some of the people attending were free-speech advocates, anti-vaxxers, concerned citizens aghast at these provocations by the government, conspiracy theorists, critics of government overreach, anti-lockdown intellectuals, and run-of-the-mill Christians upset and wanting to make their voices known. There were several children mixed in with this group and practically no one was wearing masks. This really was an eclectic bunch, with varying spins on the same message that what the police were doing at Gracelife Church was wrong. Most were wearing winter coats as there was still snow on the ground.
In total, estimates have between 400-500 people attending. The police attended in large numbers as well, with around 150 officers at their peak. Some dressed in their regular uniforms while others dressed in riot gear, all while police helicopters flew overhead. They blocked off the roads and so the vehicles had to park far away and walk to the site. Some people went up and down the roads, honking and blaring their horns in support. Unfortunately, being from out of town many weren’t mindful of where they were parking and ended up parking on the Enoch Cree reservation, with one person alleged to have vandalized the chief’s car. Men and women would eventually come out from the reserve and ask them to stop parking there, setting up their own roadblock and engaging in a confrontation with protesters.
Sunday Afternoon: With different groups present, some had differing intentions. The morning was peaceful. Some sang hymns and sang the national anthem. There was a small impromptu service off to the side. Some leaders who brought supporters down gave speeches on bullhorns and engaged in public prayer for the church, as well as for the RCMP officers. There was a man wearing an LGBTQ flag as a cape who was mistaken for a counterprotester until he started in on the ‘freedom chants.” One member of the media’s vehicles was “vandalized” when someone wrote “fake news” in the dust of a reporter’s back window. The vast majority had peaceful intentions, but a few did not.
Eventually, a small group of people began tearing the outer fence down, taking the dividers and throwing them on the ground. It is unknown at this time who they were associated with. This act of aggression did not go far and was quickly quelled, both by fellow protesters who shouted at them to “leave the fence alone” as they were physically pulled them away from the chainlinks, as well as by police, who came running in. The whole situation was quickly de-escalated with a greater police presence, even as protesters helped put the fence back up. Supporters of the church would eventually stand together in front of the fence, facing the crowd and announcing the need for peace. In total, one man was arrested for obstruction but was later released with conditions.
More scenes from the GraceLife protest you won’t see in the mainstream media.— Sheila Gunn Reid (@SheilaGunnReid) April 12, 2021
Those who came to pray and sing were chanting for the fence to be left alone. pic.twitter.com/iQqnq7OVpW
Where was the GraceLife Church congregation as this was happening?
They were busy worshipping the Lord and being taught the scriptures, away from the prying eyes of their government and the distraction of a large rally.
At the time the first section of the fence was removed, the underground service was just winding down. There was no members of the church present, given the distance from the underground church service to their building. Some came later in the afternoon, but for that brief initial skirmish with the fence, Grace congregation members were nowhere to be seen, still hidden away in their proverbial catacomb.
Sunday Evening: The rallies wound down and started dispersing around 2 p.m. Media sources would report extensively on what happened, with some saying that the Church had a hand in bringing down the fence. Later that day, the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedom would release a statement on behalf of the Church, again explaining that they were not there, but that they supported the right of people to peacefully protest, and that it was understandable that people were agitated.
Grace Life Church appreciates the public outpouring of support to fully open churches in Alberta. Grace Life Church congregants were not at the protest that occurred on Sunday, April 11, 2021 near the Church’s facility. Grace Life Church recognizes the place for peaceful protest within the context of a democracy.
Grace Life Church has no control of our Church or grounds at this time. The Church grounds are fully under the responsibility and control of the RCMP and Alberta Health Services. The closing of the Grace Life facility has understandably resulted in significant public outrage and caused even larger crowds to gather in one place. Albertans have a constitutional right to assemble, associate, and worship. By taking the measures the government has, while the matter is still pending before the Courts, the Alberta Government has created an even more divisive situation.
It is time to end these unscientific, unjustified and arbitrary lockdown measures.
Monday Morning: There is still a police presence at GraceLife Church, but nowhere as high as it was yesterday. Protesters are there now in much smaller numbers and are expected to arrive at different points in the day. No large rallies are planned for the weekend, but several groups are promising that if the government does not relent and take down the fence, they will be back next Sunday in greater numbers.
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