NewsCovering Louisiana


Central pastor files lawsuit against JBE, local officials; alleges harassment, threats

tony spell.PNG
Posted at 7:27 PM, May 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-08 20:30:05-04

CENTRAL, La. — Rev. Tony Spell, the pastor of Life Tabernacle Church in Central, has filed a lawsuit against state and local officials, accusing them of threats and harassment, according to our media partners at The Advocate.

The suit, filed Thursday at the U.S. District Court in Baton Rouge, accuses Gov. John Bel Edwards, Central Mayor David Barrow, Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, and others of threats and harassment.

Spell claims cameras were installed across from the church and from a window of his home "to view those coming and going," reports the The Advocate. Spell also said his phone was tapped by unnamed parties and that he had been followed.

Last month, Spell held church services in violation of the state's stay at home order twice. He was arrested and booked into parish prison on misdemeanor counts after a protester accused the preacher of nearly hitting him with one of the church's school buses.

Spell claims in the suit that the emergency orders and his subsequent citation were a violation of his and the congregation's right to free exercise of religion and free speech. He also says that religious organizations were singled out and given greater restrictions, while other businesses were deemed essential and allowed to open.

The lawsuit asks a federal judge to not allow the governor or law enforcement officials from enforcing the order on Spell or his church. He also asks that the conditions of his bail, which calls for Spell to comply with the order, not be enforced.

According to The Advocate, Central Police have cited Spell with six counts of violating Edwards' emergency orders.

A spokesperson for Edwards said he has not yet had time to review the suit and therefore couldn't comment.

Read The Advocate's full story here.

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