I hadn’t intended to blog very much today because it is Easter, but this is an old story and not getting any fresher.
Dearborn— A jury on Friday will weigh whether a Quran-burning pastor can legally carry out plans that day to protest at the Islamic Center of America mosque.
Florida Pastor Terry Jones expressed frustration over the prospect this afternoon, telling 19th District Judge Mark Somers that “it will be a problem” if the trial stretches on so long that he can’t carry out the 5 p.m. demonstration against radical Islam. The trial before Somers is to begin about 8 a.m.
He impaneled the jury of four woman and three men from a pool of 30 this afternoon after ruling that Jones’ protest could endanger the public and would have to pay an unspecified peace bond to demonstrate on a small median outside the Ford Road mosque. The jury includes six members and one alternate.
Jones refused to pay the bond and opted for the trial, which initially was believed to occur this afternoon.
The ruling puts into question Jones’ demonstration, which has sparked arguments about the line between free speech and public safety. Prosecutors have sought the unspecified bond — Jones said it was up to $100,000 — for extra police in fear of a riot.
The hearing comes a day after Dearborn city officials denied Jones a permit to protest on public land near the mosque citing public safety concerns. They say he could face arrest if he carries through the protest. Before the hearing, Jones — who wore a leather jacket and jeans — said he planned to proceed with the demonstration despite the permitting issues or peace bond.
It seems to me that if anyone should have to pay a “peace bond” it should be the mosque, if they cannot guarantee that their members will not act violently towards a peaceful protest.
And then there is this, which is more than a little chilling:
The city of Dearborn has told him he can protest at other, “free speech” zones in the city. They and prosecutors argued that the proximity of nearby churches and a school could compromise safety if Jones demonstrated at the mosque.
“Free speech zones”?? Whatever happened to the first amendment. The whole country is or should be a free speech zone.
But, at least for once the ACLU is on the right side:
The issue is also being watched very closely by the ACLU of Michigan, which planned to have a representative in the courtroom today. The organization wants to make sure Jones’ First Amendment rights are not being violated, said ACLU of Michigan spokeswoman Rana Elmir.