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Shaye Spell, wife of Life Tabernacle Church pastor Tony Spell, flashes currency for bond money just before entering East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, after her husband was arrested and booked Tuesday, April 21, 2020. The pastor, who has defied the prohibition of large gatherings put in place because of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 epidemic and continued to hold services, was arrested on a Tuesday on allegations he tried to hit a protester Sunday with one of his buses.

As this pandemic rolls on, the expected frustration from being cooped up for weeks, and the loss of jobs and income, has reached the boiling point.

Across the country, the move is to open up our economy. It’s happening in some states now and will be coming to Louisiana sometime soon. Stay-at-home is driving some business owners broke and workers are losing jobs or sinking into debt. The future looks bleak. We get that. Something has to give. We have to be smart.

But this fight has given way to several disturbing comments and actions, both locally and nationally. The effort to beat COVID-19 has erupted into bruising battles, even on the religion front.

Take for instance, the Rev. Tony Spell, the pastor of the Central church that has been holding services with hundreds of people including children, ignoring a prohibition on groups of more than 10. Spell was arrested this week after he allegedly attempted to hit a protester with a church bus.

After his arrest, Spell was quoted as saying. “I was pulling in from my bus route, picking up black children who haven’t eaten because of this sinister policy that has closed schools.”

Interestingly, Spell cared so much about those poor black children that he has been begging their parents to give him their stimulus checks, the few dollars that could keep their families afloat. Think about that.

Here’s another. Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick: “There are more important things than living …” in defending his support of that state reopening its economy even under risk of death from the coronavirus. Wait, doesn’t he support anti-abortion policies which are premised on saying that all life is important? So, is Patrick now suggesting if money is involved then life isn’t all that important?

Dozens of people have shown up in military garb and brandishing military-styled weapons (Oh, I’m sorry, those are actually hunting weapons … wink, wink) saying they want their right to go back to work.

I’ve got three things on this. These groups are usually made up of white men and women with weapons, signs and a few with Confederate flags, walking down the street, blocking traffic and even walking into a state capitol or two. They are not confronted by law enforcement. I reemphasize that dozens of African Americans and people of color toting guns would be confronted by something resembling a military force.

How about a large group of people of color brandishing weapons and wearing face masks? The consequences for them would be deadly.

Then we have to wonder, how much of this anger and gatherings is being fueled by Russian bots on the internet acting as right-wing groups? It’s something to think about.

Also, by toting those weapons, are they threatening to kill folks? Maybe even law enforcement who might cross their paths? You don’t need multiple-bullet clips to show your support for the Second Amendment.

And, there have been folks suggesting that their battle to reopen the economy is akin to the fight in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. One high-ranking federal official said the protesters are akin to Rosa Parks. Really?

For the record, civil rights fighters, including Parks, risked getting beaten and killed by the Klan and law enforcement with no questions asked. Case closed on that ridiculous comparison.

There has been much made, and rightfully so, of the disproportionate number of African Americans, given their percentage of the population, dying as a result of complications associated with COVID-19. There are many ideas on why.

But there is something else that has to be studied. An African American woman was turned away 4 times from Michigan hospitals even though she exhibited COVID-19 issues. She later died.

There needs to be a study of those who get turned away and their ethnicity. Those findings could interesting.

There are those folks who say constantly that the coronavirus is akin to the flu. Well if that’s the case, let all of us know what doctor or pharmacy we can visit to get something to battle the coronavirus.

As we hope like everything that the reopening of our economy goes well, let’s stop the craziness. Let’s hope profits don’t override the safety and health of our people.

Email Edward Pratt a former newspaperman who writes a weekly column at

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