(CMR) A video surfaced online on Sunday (March 29) showing members of the Antiguan police force arresting a man inside a church because the congregation was in contravention of the new social gathering laws designed to combat the deadly coronavirus.
In the over five-minute-long video, members of the police force are seen surrounded by angry church members, who appear to be preventing the police from taking out a man, who is handcuffed, outside of the religious institution.
Officers can be seen pushing off the members of the church as they escort the man out. As the scene unfolded, a member of the church was heard screaming, “touch not the Lord’s anointed” while others can be heard asking the police to provide a reason for the arrest.
Following the removal of the man from the church, one police officer clad in a police uniform and another man, wearing a t-shirt branded police, appear to engage in a conversation on the pulpit with another man – who appears to be the church's leader.
While it is unclear what is said, the man is seen gathering his things into a bag, and then is escorted out by the cops into a police van at the church's gate.
Throughout the ordeal, one woman can be heard saying,
“ We can’t come into parliament and do what we like, but unno want to come in to God’s house come do as unno have a mind – this is God house!”
Nearing the end of the video, the man in the police branded t-shirt can be seen coming close to the woman videoing the ordeal in an attempt to snatch her phone; however, she is heard saying that if he touches her, she will be contacting her lawyer.
The officer who sounds muffled is heard issuing a warning to the woman. Based on the yelling and screaming coming from the congregation, it appears that the two members escorted into the police van, are leaders of the church. One person in the video seems to imply that the gathering, by virtue of its size, broke some legal code.
CMR reached out to the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda and was told by Corporal David with the identification 78 that no was available to answer our questions. Corporal David further noted that we should phone back during normal business hours for the Strat Com department and or Corporal Tuitt.
The Government of Antigua and Barbuda on March 13 announced a 30-day ban on social events of more than 25 people. The government noted that the ban was a pre-emptive measure to safeguard against the spread of the coronavirus.
In the Caribbean, there have been about 400 coronavirus cases, with at least 11 deaths. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has raised the risk level in the region from “moderate to high” to “very high” in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.