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Coronavirus: Supporters of lockdown-defying pastor jam police phone lines

Supporters of a US church leader who was arrested for repeatedly defying lockdown orders have jammed police phone lines after the pastor encouraged them to make their opinions known to the authorities. 

Pastor Tony Spell has been placed under house arrest after flouting Louisiana's stay-at-home order and continuing to hold in-person services at Life Tabernacle Church, just outside Baton Rouge. Pastor Spell has since violated his house arrest by leading last weekend's church service and even revealing his ankle tag to his congregation from the stage. 

Facing thousands of dollars in fines, Spell's family have encouraged his supporters to contact the police and voice their objections, causing havoc for the department. According to a Facebook post by Central Police Department, the incessant calls are begging to interfere with the force's ability to respond to emergencies. 

"Magi Spell, mother of Pastor Tony Spell of Life Tabernacle Church has posted the Central Police Department's phone number on her Facebook page encouraging everyone to call our Department," the department explained.  "This phone number is the line we receive all of our calls on including our emergency calls from Citizens needing our assistance or help due to a life changing emergency."

The department added: "If you can not reach us due to our lines being tied up please keep trying. If you have an emergency please call 911. Again we are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause."

Pastor Spell is unapologetic. "When they get this ankle bracelet off of me so I can minister to my people, we will unjam their phone lines," Spell told Business Insider on Thursday. "Those are Christians nationwide who realize this is not about a virus, it's about an attack on our civil and religious liberties. Whenever you take my religious freedoms from me, the next thing to go is the freedom of your breath."



Pastor Tony Spell remains under investigation for aggravated assault after footage emerged of him reversing a church bus towards a protester. Despite facing a plethora of charges, the minister said he would be taking the pulpit once again at Life Tabernacle this Sunday. 

"I leave my house to go to my pulpit and preach," he said. "The feds are too gutless to get me because I'm surrounded by 50 men at all times. ... my church members."

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