On Friday, Seattle Parks and Recreation announced the closure of Gas Works Park over Labor Day. The closure lasts from 8 p.m. Sunday through 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8.
Christian worship leader and musician Sean Feucht had planned a #LETUSWORSHIP rally at the park on Labor Day. The California-based pastor had led a similar event at Cal Anderson Park on Aug. 9, which drew hundreds of people, most of whom were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
When counterprotesters showed up and began chanting “Black Lives Matter,” some of Feucht’s attendees attempted to drown them out by chanting “Je-sus! Je-sus! Je-sus!”
After the rally, Gov. Jay Inslee’s office confirmed that it had violated the governor’s orders on gathering — including for religious services — during the pandemic, but a Seattle Police Department spokesperson said “SPD will not be enforcing COVID-19 orders.” The department planned to focus on public education rather than citations.
In a Sept. 1 email to the Seattle Times, Tara Lee, spokesperson for Gov. Inslee, said it was sometimes a challenge to coordinate with local law-enforcement officers on enforcement since the governor’s office has no jurisdiction over them.
“Our staff is currently pulling together the cities, counties and local health to talk about responding to these cases,” she said.
Seattle Parks and Recreation did not specifically cite Feucht’s event as the reason for the Labor Day closure, but it issued a statement saying Gas Works Park would be closed “due to anticipated crowding that could impact the public health of residents.”
Neither the city, nor Feucht’s spokesperson, have returned requests for comment.
Feucht has led a series of similar revival events across the country, including one in Vancouver, Washington, on Sept. 5, as well as earlier rallies in Portland, Oregon, and Huntington Beach, California. In June, he played with a Christian band at the site of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis.
The pastor, who also ran an unsuccessful congressional campaign, is connected to Bethel Church in Redding, California, which has tried to disassociate itself from the revival gatherings.
“The leadership is having ongoing conversations and discussions about this event, different events, also some things that were said from the podium,” the communications director for Bethel Church told a local TV news channel after a Feucht-led event in Redding. “We value people’s freedom to express themselves but we also really value the safety of our region and that’s why we’ve limited activities at church, social distancing, not having services and that’s what we’ve been doing as a church at this time.”
As of noon on Sunday, Feucht’s #LETUSWORSHIP social-media pages still listed Gas Works Park as the site for Monday’s rally.
Correction: This post previously gave an incorrect time for the closure to begin. The closure begins at 8 p.m. Sunday, not Saturday.