Chicago churches fined $500 for defying limit on gatherings

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Police Department has fined three churches $500 each for defying coronavirus social distancing restrictions by holding in-person services, making good on Mayor Lori Lighftoot's warning that the city would “be taking action” against them.

In a news release announcing the citations late Wednesday, the police department also said the city had banned parking alongside certain establishments as a precaution to prevent planned large gatherings from taking place.

In response to reports that dozens of people had attended Sunday services at Elim Romanian Pentecostal Church, Philadelphia Romanian Church of God and Metro Praise International Church, Lightfoot said Monday that the city would move swiftly against churches that violated Gov. J.B. Pritzker's order restricting gatherings to 10 or fewer people.

Willie Wilson, a former mayoral candidate and prominent businessman who attended services at one of the churches that were fined, said he will pay the fines.

“The Governor and Mayor continue to trample on our constitutional rights while hiding behind a Stay at Home Order that treats the church as non-essential,” Wilson said in a statement. “It is shameful that the church is discriminated against, while liquor stores, marijuana dispensaries and Home Depot (are) treated as essential businesses.”

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