Metro Nashville officials said at a press conference Thursday that they are still investigating a Christian-event in downtown Nashville Sunday.
Metro Deputy Chief John Drake, referring to COVID-19 said Thursday that the people who organized it did not prioritize public health.
“We had no advance communication from the organizers. We were aware of a Facebook post. Part of our enforcement was we tried to make contact without success. We had an on-duty sergeant who drove by. He looked at the event and saw that it wasn’t disorderly and that they weren’t about to march on the street. So he made the decision not to notify any of the command staff,” Drake said.
“It’s really about what we’re going to do moving forward. I had a very pointed conversation with our leadership earlier this week to ensure notification is always made and if we do have a police response what would that look like? At a very minimum we could have issued masks, given warnings and we could have asked people to social distance. It’s all about moving forward and what we’re going to do and we have a plan in place moving forward. As far as looking at warrants, that part of the investigation will be by the Health Department.”
Metro Public Health Bureau Director Hugh Atkins, meanwhile, said Metro employees are interviewing some people involved with the worship event.
“After we speak and find out we can make decisions on what we might do as far as citations are concerned. But as Chief Drake emphasized we want to look forward. It’s important the current order requires people that want to have a gathering of over 25 people submit an application through the Metro Public Health Department. Part of that application process is to tell us how you plan to manage your crowd and social distancing and folks wearing masks and that you have people provided to monitor that at the gathering,” Atkins said.
“The process of going through and getting an application approved is a learning process, and it gives the Health Department the opportunity to consult with these organizers and have events as safely as they possibly can. This was a disappointing event in so many ways that so many people did not have a healthy respect for their fellow citizens to be crowded in like that and not really a healthy respect for the status of the virus being spread in our community.”
As The Tennessee Star reported this week, an estimated 9,000 to 10,000 people attended a “Let Us Worship” protest in downtown Nashville Sunday. Sean Feucht, a Christian artist known for his leadership in the California-based megachurch, Bethel Church, hosted the event.
The Metro Public Health Department issued a statement Monday that the city would take action against Feucht.
“The Metro Public Health Department is working with other Metro Departments to investigate the event that took place Sunday in front of the Metro Courthouse. The event organizer did not submit an application to the Health Department or permit application to any Metro department. We have worked very hard to slow the spread of COVID by taking a measured approach to the community. The Health Department is very concerned by the actions that took place at the event and we are investigating and will pursue appropriate penalties against the organizer.”
The department didn’t issue any statements on adherence to pandemic mandates following the George Floyd protests and riots back in May.
Nashville is currently in Phase III. Any events over 25 people must have approval from the Metro Department of Health, with a maximum of 500 people or 30 percent capacity. All event attendees must wear masks.
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