A pastor who made controversial claims about the Springfield Police Department is having those claims challenged by police officials.
Christie Love, who pastors The Connecting Grounds, made accusations on Facebook that Springfield police officers forced her to make homeless people sitting in front of the church disperse.
“I was told that I had to make the 15 or so people that were sitting on my sidewalk resting tired feet for the first time all day leave. Despite the fact they were spread out trying to socially distance them. Per CDC guidelines,” Love wrote. “I asked why they had to leave if I am open and they are only on my sidewalk and I was told the city is sick of us being here and is actively building a case against us to shut us down as a nuisance business… I simply said I am not a business, we are a church.”
Love then said she refused to follow officers’ instructions to disperse the people sitting in front of the church.
“They asked me to remove them and I refused again letting them know they are welcome to cite me because THERE IS NO WHERE FOR THEM TO LEGALLY EXIST IN THIS CITY RIGHT NOW,” Love wrote.
Love then claimed that “neighbors” have been “sending threatening letters for months”.
However, when OI contacted the Springfield Police Department about the allegations, it appears Pastor Love’s posting did not provide an accurate record of the incident.
“Officers responded to that area based on numerous complaints from neighboring businesses and they have responded to numerous complaints in the past,” Police spokeswoman Jasmine Bailey told OI. “When officers arrived there were about 30 individuals on the lot, mostly on the sidewalk outside of the Connecting Grounds. When officers arrived many of the individuals left the area on their own accord. Officers contacted the pastor, Christie Love, and discussed the ongoing complaints and issues.”
Bailey said that Love’s claims about officers demanding the people in front of the church leave is not what really happened.
“The statements that Love made on Facebook, such as asking those on the sidewalk and parking lot to leave, are not correct,” Bailey said. “No demands were made for people to leave the Connection Grounds Property, we did ask people loitering on the property of neighboring businesses to disperse.”
A photo posted by Christie Love, shown above, shows Springfield police officers parked away from the front of the church.
Bailey said that efforts are being made to find a long-term solution for the problems in the area.