It’s Good Friday, the holiest day in the Christian calendar, and Terry Jones is at it again.
Judge Jails Terry Jones
From Detroit Free Press:
A judge late today sent two Florida pastors to jail for refusing to post a $1 bond.
Earlier, a Dearborn jury sided with prosecutors, ruling that Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp would breach the peace if they rallied at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.
Jones sat quietly after the jury’s decision, his head tilted down a bit, staring at the table.
The development comes after the jury deliberated for several hours.
In closing arguments, Wayne County assistant prosecutor Robert Moran said
the pastors would disturb the peace if they were allowed to protest today at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.
Jones and Sapp argued their right is protected under the First Amendment.
“That’s what made America great,” said Sapp. “We’re entitled to our opinion.”
‘We’ll do it today at 5 or we’ll come back next week’
Earlier, after an intense debate in court this morning over free speech and religion, Pastor Terry Jones said that he’s not backing down from his plans to protest at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn.
Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad testified today that there have been at least four serious threats made against Jones from metro Detroiters, arguing that his protest could lead to violence if allowed.
But Jones told the Free Press during his lunch break: “We’ll do it today at 5 or we’ll come back next week.”
What’s All This About?
Known for his controversial burning of the Koran, which Care2 reported on here, an event that led to riots and killings in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Jones is said to have a $2 million bounty on his head in Pakistan.
Not content with stirring up that much hatred, he had been planning a Good Friday protest in Dearborn, Michigan, where one third of the community is Muslim. Jones is seeking to spread his special version of Christianity to protest the Islamic Center of America mosque in Dearborn.
Largest Muslim Community In America
Dearborn is home to the largest Muslim community in America and is in close proximity to West Bloomfield and surrounds, home to a large Jewish community. The communities have worked with the neighboring Christian community peacefully and successfully for years, making the Dearborn principle of religious tolerance and interaction a model for other communities.
However, Jones was denied a permit to protest on public property, and warned that he could be subject to arrest if he protested without a permit. Jones said that wouldn’t stop him from protesting. After a judge told Jones he could protest if he paid a peace bond and stayed in a free speech zone as he planned protest near a school and churches, Jones opted instead for a trial to rule on his planned protest for 5 PM on April 22, Good Friday.
So that’s how today’s trial came about.
Free Speech Or Public Risk?
Jones, who represented himself in court on Friday, argued that violated his free speech rights.
“The First Amendment is only valid if it allows us to say what other people may not like,” Jones said in court. “Otherwise, we do not need the First Amendment.”
The American Civil Liberties Union agreed, saying police had overstepped by trying to force Jones to post a “peace bond” that could hold him financially responsible for police protection.
The civil rights group filed a motion asking District Judge Mark Somers to dismiss the case. Somers, who had ruled in favor of prosecutors before the trial, declined to do so.
“It is unconstitutional to put a price on free speech in anticipation that the speech may not be welcome by others,” said Rana Elmir, a spokeswoman for the ACLU.
Police estimated it would cost over $46,000 — including the cost of a helicopter and a dump truck — to keep violence from breaking out if Jones were allowed to protest.
What do you think?
Wyscan via Creative Commons