Terry Jones, controversial anti-Islam pastor, will visit Dearborn to rally against Islamic Sharia law again. The Florida native is expected to be the featured guest speaker June 14 at the Dearborn Freedom Rally, an event held by the American Patriotic Bikers, according to an announcement by Stand Up America Now, the activist group Jones founded.
In a previous announcement, the organization said Jones was going to speak at Camp Dearborn in Milford. However, Jones said he will be speaking from the grassy area in front of the Islamic Center of America (ICA), a mosque on Ford Road.
The event was planned specifically for Flag Day, he said, and will include a motorcycle parade through the city before a presentation and his speech in front of the mosque, which will focus on the First Amendment and Sharia law. “It’s also on how Islam is not compatible to Western society because of its lack of freedom in thinking, thought and expression,” he said.
No one has applied for a permit for the event, according to Mary Laundroche, the city’s director of public information. She said Dearborn does have freedom of speech zones, including city hall, where Jones could speak without applying for a permit.
Jones’ visit to Dearborn in 2012 led to a federal court ruling against the city for violating his freedom of speech. U.S. District Judge Denise Page Hood ruled Aug. 30, 2012, that the city violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment by requiring Jones and Stand Up America Now co-founder Wayne Sapp to sign an indemnification agreement before they spoke in the city April 7, 2012.
Hood ruled that the ordinance was a violation of Jones and Sapp’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and expressive association, and the ordinance requiring the police chief to grant a special permit only after the indemnification agreement was signed also violated their First Amendment rights.
The ruling prompted the city to change its special events ordinance last year. The portion requiring a signed indemnification agreement was eliminated. Now, the event’s sponsor must provide an insurance certificate or sign a hold harmless agreement with the city unless the event is “constitutionally protected.”
Also new is that the payment requirement “shall be waived if the applicant can show that the proposed special event is a constitutionally protected event.” Also, the event application submitted to the police chief must include a plan for parking, security, crowd control, traffic control, restrooms, noise control and cleanup of the area, and insurance is required if it’s not “constitutionally protected.” Organizers must get permission from the property owner to hold the event, as well.
The event itself was largely uneventful, unlike previous visits by Jones and Sapp, because Muslim leaders urged their followers to stay away. Jones and Sapp spoke for about an hour, and a message on ICA’s electronic message board read, “A Peaceful Easter to our Christian Friends and Neighbors…”
Dawud Walid, executive director of the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said community leaders will be encouraging the same this year. “We’re advising people in Dearborn and our constituents to stay away from that June rally of Terry Jones. We’re not planning anything special for him,” he said.
Walid said Jones doesn’t deserve the attention. “The last time he came here, there was no big to-do. Mr. Jones is just coming here to get his 15 minutes of fame renewed,” he said.
Jones also visited Dearborn several times in 2011 to demonstrate against “sharia,” “jihad,” and “radical Islam,” and generated enormous controversy with each visit. For his first visit, he planned to demonstrate in front of ICA, but his plans were put on hold when the Wayne County Prosecutor issued a warrant for a peace bond hearing.
A six-member jury of Dearborn residents found Jones was likely to cause a breach of the peace if he held the demonstration in front of the mosque and Judge Mark Somers ordered Jones and his associate Wayne Sapp to pay a $1 peace bond. The men refused to post it on the principle they hadn’t done anything to warrant it and were jailed for less than an hour before paying the bond.
Jones also planned last year to burn 2,998 Qurans, one for each American who died in the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001. However, he was arrested en route to the event in Florida with a felony charge of unlawful conveyance of fuel for towing a trailer with a large grill filled with Qurans soaked in kerosene.
Jones said he does not know where the motorcycle parade will start and if there will be other speakers at the June 14 rally.
The city’s annual Flag Day ceremony is also scheduled for June 14. Laundroche said the city is preparing for that and not for Jones’ visit. “Our ceremony is kind of unique, because we burn American flags but in a very respectful way,” she said. American flags that can no longer be used for service will be burned at the special ceremony 7 p.m. June 14 at Ford Field Park in Dearborn.