“I’m not sure what happened,” said Rev. CJ Conner. “Everybody knew that I was hosting and organizing the event. People were calling me to tell me the Ford County Sheriff leaned on them to shut it down. We had the space, lots of funding donated, the Pizza donated. Neither Sheriff Bill Carr nor any of his buddies had the courage to call me.”
Before he became a pastor, Conner worked as a social worker and a counselor in a high population urban community that looked much like Dodge City.
“To intimidate Pastors and organizers into cancelling an event has a chilling effect on the free exercise of religion, especially when you are doing it behind a badge and a gun. Let’s just say people who cross Sheriff Carr get pulled over more often in Ford County.”
The day after the event was announced, 12 officers with guns and rifles drawn descended on Rev. Conner’s Aspire building in Downtown Dodge according to shop owners that rent from him.
“When I asked an officer on the scene what happened, he yelled at me. Later I got help from dispatch and the police said that the guns may have been drawn, but that it was all a misunderstanding.”
“The people in power in Dodge City want this pastor to “know his place. They want me to know that I’m not welcome in Dodge.”