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Idaho city to pay $300K settlement to singing Christians arrested during COVID-19 lockdowns

In a legal settlement, a city in Idaho has agreed to pay $300,000. The lawsuit was filed against the city of Moscow, Idaho, and many of its employees by Gabriel Rench, Sean Bohnet, and Rachel Bohnet. The legal action was taken in response to an incident that occurred in September 2020 when the plaintiffs participated in the “Psalm sing” gathering at the City Hall parking lot in Moscow to protest during COVID-19 lockdowns where the individuals were subsequently arrested.

The Christian Post reports:

In a legal resolution that echoes the tense confrontations over draconian restrictions on the faith community in parts of the United States during the COVID-19 lockdowns, a city in Idaho has agreed to a settlement of $300,000 following the arrest of Christians who were singing hymns  outdoors as a form of protest.

The lawsuit was filed by Gabriel Rench and Sean and Rachel Bohnet against the city of Moscow, Idaho, and several of its employees in response to a gathering that took place at City Hall in September 2020.

The Idaho Counties Risk Management Program, the city’s liability insurance provider, determined that a financial settlement was the best way to resolve the suit and avoid lengthy litigation.

Under the terms of the agreement, the ICRMP will pay $300,000, and all claims against the city and the employees named in the lawsuit will be dismissed, along with a release of all liability, as stated in a July 14 press release by the city of Moscow.

The protest was organized by Christ Church, where Gabriel Rench served as a deacon. The event garnered significant national attention, with even then-President Trump mentioning it on his Twitter feed.

The settlement follows the arrests that occurred at a “Psalm sing” protest in the City Hall parking lot on Sept. 23, 2020. The protest, organized by Christ Church where Rench was a deacon, attracted nationwide attention, even reaching the Twitter feed of then-President Trump.

While some supported the Moscow Police Department’s decision to arrest the peaceful protestors, others criticized Christ Church for what they saw as unlawful and unsafe behavior. The church has since proven that its “Psalm sing” was constitutionally protected “expressive and associative conduct,” and officers lacked grounds even to ask for participants’ IDs, let alone make arrests.

Read the full article here.

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