N. writes (April 22):
Pastor Terry Jones leaves Dearborn, vows to return for protest next week
DETROIT (WXYZ)—Controversial Quran-burning Pastor Terry Jones left Dearborn Saturday after unsuccessfully staging a protest outside of the Islamic American Center, but not before vowing to return the following week for another protest.
Jones and his associate Wayne Sapp left for Florida, but say they’ll hold a protest at 5:00p.m. next Friday. This time, however, it will not be at the Islamic center, it will be at the courthouse. Jones says his constitutional rights were denied when he was arrested and unable to protest on Friday.
The development came after a jury found a proposed protest by Jones and his associate Wayne Sapp outside the Islamic Center of America, the largest mosque in the United States, was likely to breach the peace and incite violence.
The jury began debating the case at around 3:30 p.m. Thursday. The main issue of the one day trial was whether or not Jones’s main purpose was to say or do something that would incite violence. They came back with their verdict shortly after 6:30 p.m.
Based on the decision Jones was required to submit a peace bond. The judge set the bond at $1. He also ordered that neither Jones nor his associate could enter the property of the Islamic Center of America or the area surrounding it for 3 years.
The judge then asked both men if they were prepared to post their bonds. Both men refused and were taken into custody. They were due to be taken to the Wayne County Jail until their bond was posted. It is not known who posted the bonds.
At the start of Friday’s trial, prosecutors presented their arguments before the jury. They argued that a protest outside the mosque would pose a significant safety issue. They also argued that there is concern from authorities that someone may get hurt.
In addition to concerns of safety, prosecutors say the Florida pastor would not be following the law if he held a protest outside the mosque after he was denied a permit for that particular location. He was asked to hold his protest in a permit free zone, but insisted that they would still hold their protest outside of the mosque.
Jones spoke in court and argued that he has the First Amendment right to protest outside the mosque.
“I believe … they will try and show you many pictures of events trying to paint us into a [certain] light. There are possible things we did concerning Quran and the burning of the Quran which you possibly may not agree with. One thing I think we have to remember, this is to a certain extent a First Amendment issue,” said Jones.
During his opening statement before the jury, Jones talked about the charges they make against the Quran.
“”The burning of the Quran is obviously to some people offensive. We charge the Quran in three ways; the Quran is charged with the training and promoting of … activities around the world; the Quran is charged with the death, rape and torture of people worldwide whose only crime is not being Muslim; the Quran is charged with crimes against women … against minorities, against Christians with the promoting of prejudice and racism against anyone who is not a Muslim,” said Jones.
The pastor’s associate, Wayne Sapp, is also in court to testify about their intent to hold the protest. He told the court they have no intention of causing any violence. When questioned by prosecutors, Sapp said they planned to hold the protest regardless of the outcome of today’s proceedings. Sapp was also questioned by Terry Jones, who is representing himself in the case.
Prosecutors also brought up safety concerns about Terry Jones carrying a firearm after his weapon accidentally discharged in the parking lot at Detroit TV State WJBK Thursday night. No one was injured.
Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad also took the stand to testify. Chief Haddad denied the permit request that would allow the protest to take place outside of the mosque. He testified that there were concerns over safety.
Terry Jones also questioned Chief Haddad. He referred to a conversation he had with the Chief and asked him what his impression was after they had met. Chief Haddad responded that Jones was cordial and did not appear to be violent in nature.
The prosecutors wrapped up their case in the morning before the court’s lunch break.
Jones and Sapp called two witnesses after that break then rested their case. Their witnesses included a Texas Pastor who has protested with Jones before and a Rabbi who said he would join their protest at the Islamic Center of America.
After a short break closing arguments began.
During their closing arguments the lawyer for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office argued, “Just because we have the first amendment doesn’t mean you can say anything or do anything at any time.” He then referenced the fact that you cannot yell “Fire” in a crowded theater because that poses a danger to the people inside.
Prosecutors then went on to describe the conditions in the area and the problems that they say would make Jones’ protest dangerous. They include limited access for rescue
personnel should something happen. They argue “It’s a recipe for disaster.”
The prosecutors also brought up Jones’ and Sapp’s intents saying that they have already said they will break the law by holding the protest, no matter what the court rules. It is not clear if he still intends to go through with the protest now that the jury has ruled against him.
In his closing arguments Pastor Jones rebutted the prosecutor’s claim that he and Sapp don’t care, saying that they do care and that “that is why we do this.”
Jones also said the reason he and Sapp would not protest at the court house is because they are not protesting American laws. He says he wants to protest at the Islamic Center of America because that is the right venue for his protest, which is against radical Islam.
Then, addressing arguments about the traffic problem, Jones asked is that a “good enough” reason to “deny someone’ rights?”
After Jones wrapped up his closing argument, his associate Wayne Sapp gave his. He began by saying that the prosecution was arguing that their actions were intending to breach the peace. However, he said all of the evidence prosecutors have presented is about the actions of others. He sais the jury must judge the case on their actions and not those of others.
Sapp then referenced a video presented by prosecutors as evidence, saying it did not show any violence either by them or on their behalf.
Closing arguments wrapped up with the prosecutor’s rebuttal. Then the judge gave the jury their instructions and they began deliberating. They were back with a verdict three hours later.
The courtroom drama began Thursday when, during his first court appearance, the judge ordered that Jones had to post a peace bond. That’s a court order that requires a person to submit money that would guarantee that they would not commit a breach of peace.
Jones refused to post the peace bond, which gave him the right to have a trial by jury to decide if the court was correct in imposing the bond. Jones chose to have a trial by jury instead of letting the judge decide. The main purpose of the trial was to determine what Jones’s intent was in holding the protest.
Thursday’s hearing was ordered after prosecutors argued that the threat of violence was too great to allow the protest to go forward on the grounds of the Islamic Center of America. When Jones was ordered not to hold his protest on the grounds of the mosque, he was given the option to hold it in one of the city’s free speech zones.
Terry Jones is the primary speaker for ‘Stand Up America Now.’ The organization released the following statement to Action News Saturday morning:
“We posted the bond. We made it very, very clear that we posted this under the greatest protest!
The arrests, the whole proceedings, were a definite violation of our Constitutional rights. As a matter of fact, we were arrested and had not even committed a crime. It is a complete violation of our First Amendment Right of Freedom of Speech.
It was clearly influenced by the mosque. We were told that we were able to present our message in front of one of the “Free Speech Zones”, but we were NOT allowed to present our message in the grassy area in front of the mosque. Thus making it very clear that this is not about our message, and not about us, but about the place. In other words, it is all about the location which is the Islamic Center.
Sharia is much closer than we thought. The judge even made a statement, that if the mosque elders and leadership would have desired the restraints placed on us of not going near the mosque be lifted, then he would have taken that into consideration.
Thus proving that this whole thing is a direct violation of Freedom of Speech and that they are favoring the religion of Islam.
The City of Dearborn used the court as an instrument to prevent our protest from taking place today as scheduled, and has now violated our civil liberties by preventing us from exercising our freedom of speech as planned. We will be in contact with legal representation and plan to protest next week in front of the Islamic Center.”