Pastor Ponders Suit over Mich. Mosque Protest; Claims Violation of Free Speech
Byline: Andrea Billups, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
DEARBORN, Mich. -- The Rev. Terry Jones, who was jailed briefly Friday after refusing to pay a peace bond after a jury trial here over a protest permit, said he may sue Wayne County and other government agencies for violating his constitutional rights to free speech.
Mr. Jones, who caused a worldwide furor after he and members of his Florida church vowed to burn a Koran last Sept. 11, said over the weekend that he is consulting with the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., a Christian public-interest law firm, about his arrest on Good Friday.
He plans to return this Friday to Dearborn, home to one of the nation's largest Arab-American populations, to protest at City Hall in a case that has angered free-speech advocates including the Michigan ACLU, which filed an amicus brief in the case Friday.
A jury found that Mr. Jones and Pastor Wayne Sapp, both of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., were likely to breach the peace with their plan to protest on public property outside a large mosque, and the city refused to give the two men a permit.
Using a law on the books since the 1920s, the city asked them to pay a peace bond of more than $40,000 that they said would be needed to cover costs for public safety during the protest. The ministers refused, saying their planned demonstration was to be peaceful, and a district judge ordered a trial.
A six-member jury ruled against them Friday evening and Judge Mark Somers of Michigan's 19th District Court, set the peace bond at $1.
When Mr. Jones and Mr. Sapp refused to pay it, the judge ordered them to jail, stunning many in the crowd who said during the proceedings they thought free speech rights would prevail. The case sparked unity rallies across the city among church congregations and intense police presence.
Although the two men declined to post their $1 bond at first, they later paid the fee Friday night, under the greatest protest and left Detroit on Saturday amid the same media crush that followed them when they arrived Thursday. …