A Christian bookstore was forced to close and a pair of customers were arrested amid a COVID lockdown in the United Kingdom.
According to the BBC, police stormed the Mustard Seed in Gedling, Nottingham, arresting two men earlier this month.
The customers were detained and fined the equivalent of $267 USD after they refused to provide details about themselves. Police arrived on the scene following reports that “40 to 50 people” were gathered inside the shop.
The BBC adds that Nottingham officials told the business owner to close down before the arrests took place. The shop’s owner, Chris Stala, however, kept the store open during the nation’s second lockdown, citing the Magna Carta as justification for legally remaining open.
The owner of the Mustard Seed in Gedling previously cited Magna Carta as a reason to remain open https://t.co/imZ1T4NpJf
— BBC East Midlands (@bbcemt) November 16, 2020
The shop posted a notice in the window, declaring its right to do business “under the jurisdiction of common law”, citing article 61 of the Magna Carta: “We have a right to enter into lawful dissent if we feel we are being governed unjustly.”
Stala added that she intended to remain open so community members struggling with mental health issues amid the pandemic had a place to seek faith-based support.
Regardless, the Mansfield Magistrates’ office issued an order to close the Mustard Seed. Gedling Borough Councillor John Clarke claims there was no other alternative but to crackdown on the little shop.
“We have given the owner several chances to do the right thing and they’ve made the decision to ignore our message,” Clarke said, according to the Gedling Eye. “Things are now so serious that they risk imprisonment, which nobody wants to see.”
Stala now faces a mountain of fines totaling $22,700 for flouting lockdown orders.
Stala, according to the BBC, doesn’t believe she is breaking the law but “taking a stand.”
“I’m not doing this because I’m a rebel,” she said. “I don’t believe what I am doing is unlawful. I’m standing up for what is right and moral.”
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