Chicago police break up church funeral to enforce stay-at-home order

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St. Odisho Church in Chicago, Illinois | Google Street View

One would expect trouble at a funeral in Beirut or Baghdad, but it was Chicago where police went in and broke up mourners on March 29. They were enforcing Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s sweeping stay-at-home order, imposed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The order took effect March 21 and stays in place through April 7.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that just before 9 a.m. on Sunday, officers saw a group congregating inside St. Odisho Church on Pulaski Road, according to a police spokesman. Officers said they saw 40 to 60 people, many of them elderly.

People over 65 are considered to be at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Several people were seen drinking from the same cup during communion before officers “expedited the completion of the funeral service and dispersed patrons,” Guglielmi said.

To the officers’ credit, no one was arrested and no citations were issued.

“This is sincerely the last thing we want to do, but public health during this climate is vastly important for everyone,” Guglielmi said.

Many places of worship have begun streaming services online to adhere to disease-prevention guidelines.

In Louisiana, about 500 people disobeyed a state ban on gatherings Sunday and flocked to a church outside Baton Rouge, according to the Associated Press. Cops also broke up a “funeral repast” a day earlier in New Orleans, issuing a warrant for a man who refused to shut it down and a summons to a band leader.

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