Christians Receive $300,000 Settlement for Wrongful Arrest Amid 2020 Anti-Mask Protest

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3 Christians Receive $300,000 Settlement

Justice has finally been served for three Idaho Christians who were wrongfully arrested during an anti-mask protest back in 2020.

After a prolonged legal battle, the city has finally agreed to pay a $300,000 settlement to the aggrieved parties for violating their constitutional right to protest during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The incident took place in September 2020 when nearly 200 Christians gathered outside city hall in Moscow, Idaho, to protest a municipal mask and social distancing mandate.

Despite their peaceful and maskless demonstration, the protestors were confronted by city police. Gabriel Rench, along with Sean and Rachel Bohnet, were arrested and cited for violating Public Health Emergency Order No. 20-03, which mandated masks and social distancing.

The Bohnets faced additional charges of resisting or obstructing an officer for refusing to show their identification.

Civil rights attorney Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, emphasized the importance of protecting constitutionally-protected rights and stated, “Arresting peaceful Christian worshippers exercising their constitutionally-protected rights is a serious threat to freedom.

There is no pandemic pause button on the Constitution.”

However, the prosecution’s case was undermined from the start due to various missteps and oversights on the part of the city administration.

A U.S. District Court judge highlighted that the Emergency Powers Ordinance, which formed the legal basis for the subsequent public health orders, explicitly exempted constitutionally-protected activities, including religious gatherings and protests, from being subject to the mask and social distancing mandate.

The court’s analysis revealed that the three Christians never violated the mayor’s order, and they should not have been arrested in the first place.

The arresting officers were misinformed about the applicable laws, and the prosecutors’ charging decisions were deemed flawed.

Given the evident mishandling of the case, the court ordered a settlement conference, leading to the city’s decision to pay the affected parties $300,000 in damages.

Half of the amount will go towards legal fees, while the other half will be donated to support persecuted Christians.

“It was one of the most novel set of circumstances the Court has ever encountered,” stated Judge Morrison England, describing the case.

He added that the three Christians “should never have been arrested.”

Civil rights attorney Mat Staver, who represented the Christians, reiterated the significance of the case outcome, saying, “Thankfully, our Constitution protects our religious freedoms from government overreach.”

Throughout the legal process, the city took measures to rectify its stance.

The City of Moscow dropped its criminal charges against the three protestors, and during the course of the case, they repealed the ordinance section that allowed for such exclusions and terminated the mayor’s mask mandate and social distancing order.

The resolution of this case serves as a significant victory for the right to protest and express religious beliefs freely.

The $300,000 settlement not only compensates the victims of wrongful arrest but also sends a strong message that constitutional rights must be safeguarded, even during times of government-enforced public health emergencies.

Read the original story here:
Epoch Times

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2020 Anti-Mask Protest Christians Civil Rights Attorney Constitutional Rights Covid-19 Idaho Mask Mandate Pandemic Police Protestors settlement Social Distancing U.S. District Court Wrongful Arrest

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