CENTRAL, La. (BRPROUD)– Pastor Tony Spell addressed his supporters in front of East Baton Rouge Parish Prison after posting bail on Tuesday.
Spell was arrested Tuesday morning after a warrant was issued stemming from an incident on Sunday that was caught on video. The video allegedly shows Spell backing up a church bus toward a protester who was standing on the side of the road in front of the Life Tabernacle Church. Spell and his attorney called a press conference Tuesday morning after a warrant for aggravated assault was released on Monday. Spell was arrested by the Central Police Department before he was able to speak with reporters. “He wanted to have his news conference,” Central Police Chief Roger Corcoran said. “We aren’t out here for a news conference, we have a job to do,” Corcoran said.
Upon being taken into custody, Spell’s congregation arrived in Life Tabernacle Buses and followed him to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison where he was booked. His congregation gathered in the parking lot where they sang and prayed for Spell and law enforcement while they waited for their pastor to make bail.
Within two hours Spell was arrested, booked, and bailed out. Spell’s wife was seen with a wad of cash, dancing and fanning the money to bail her husband out. Spell’s bond was set at $5,000.
Upon leaving the Parish Prison, Spell was greeted with cheers from his congregation and immediately addressed the reporters on scene. “I want to give hope to every Christian, in this nation today you don’t let anybody take your rights to go to church. You don’t let anybody take your rights to assemble, you stand strong, and don’t ever forget Jesus Christ is this world’s savior,” Spell said. Spell reiterated his defiant statements against the Governor’s stay at home order. “I will not give up my right to have church, I will not give up my rights to praise the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Spell said.
Spell’s attorney said he believes this was a last ditch effort by the Central Police Department to stop his church services. “I think the Central Police Department is trying to close down the Church, they have not been able to do so, so they took a complaint against someone who is obviously biased against the church and ran with it,” Attorney Joe Long said. Long addressed the alleged bus incident by asking, if the protestor felt he was in danger why didn’t he move out of the way?
Spell was previously issued six summons last month after he continued to hold church services at Life Tabernacle with hundreds of parishioners in attendance in defiance of Governor John Bel Edward’s “stay at home” order meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Louisiana.
A report from the East Baton Rouge Coroner’s office confirmed a parishioner at Life Tabernacle Church passed away from complications related to COVID-19 last week.