Dearborn, County Tell Court Terry Jones' Visit Too Dangerous, Costly
Florida Pastor Terry Jones' visit, Dearborn Police say, is too costly, and likely to incite violence or create a dangerous situation. Jones must appear in court before he can hold his planned demonstration in the city.
Controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones must appear in court Thursday before he can hold his planned protest outside the nation's largest mosque Friday in Dearborn.
In an April 15 court filing against Jones, who has burned a Quran and incited violence in the past, Dearborn Police Department officials detailed their concerns. They say the Florida pastor’s plans for a demonstration at Dearborn’s Islamic Center of America this Friday would be logistically and fiscally impossible, and put lives at stake.
Jones is scheduled to appear in Michigan a day before the protest at the 19th District Court at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 21, in front of Judge Mark Somers.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Jones’ camp had not responded as to whether they will honor the court date.
Jones told Detroit’s WXYZ-TV after being notified of the legal action that he was surprised.
"We have made it very clear that we are coming there with very, very peaceful intentions," Jones told the station. "We will be armed. We do have concealed weapons permits."
The complaint filed against Jones, as well as his associates at the Dove Outreach Center, Stephanie and Wayne Sapp, was issued by the Wayne County prosecutor’s office last Friday after mounting evidence suggested that Jones’ planned event could potentially start a riot.
Prosecutors have asked the court to take action to legally prohibit Jones and his associates from demonstrating in Dearborn.
In an affidavit, Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad explained that his department’s Special Events division received Jones’ application for a permit to protest outside the Islamic Center on April 8.
After learning of Jones previous actions—including the March 20 “International Judge the Koran Day,” during which Jones and Wayne Sapp set fire to the Muslim holy book—Haddad authorized an “intelligence initiative,” the purpose of which was to examine the potential danger of Dearborn playing host to Jones.
Based on the information provided by the FBI—including hundreds of death threats against Jones and advice from the federal government that more violence over Jones’s actions is possible—Haddad said he saw the demonstration as a threat to public safety.
“I believe that Pastor Jones intends to engage in conduct that will put his safety and that of the public at risk,” Haddad wrote in his statement. “Intelligence received leads me to believe that Pastor Jones will jeopardize the safety of the public by committing an act against the person or property of another in the form of burning a Quran.”
Weighing Costs and Logistics
Sgt. Robert Seeley, who heads up the Special Events division of the Dearborn Police Department, wrote in an affidavit that accommodating Jones would cost the city more than it could afford.
By his estimates, police costs would total more than $46,000, including crowd control barricades, manpower, a helicopter, camera truck, police vehicles, parking enforcement and more.
Sgt. Seeley stated that “the city of Dearborn is not economically equipped to expend” the amount necessary to accommodate Jones’ request.
Dearborn Police Traffic Safety and Accident Investigation Bureau Sgt. Douglas Topolski added that logistically, the protest would create huge traffic problems.
The mosque sits on Altar Road alongside six Christian churches. The sole entrance is off of Ford Road, a six-lane divided highway with a posted speed limit of 50 mph. There’s no public parking in the area, and the public area Jones requested to demonstrate in is a 200-by-15-yard space that backs right up to Ford Road.
In fact, Topolski added, “funding has been approved for a major roadway reconfiguration” in that area by the Michigan Department of Transportation because of a recognized traffic flow issue.
Having Jones there, plus hundreds of counter-protesters expected to show up at that time, would only exacerbate the issue and create “significant and potentially life-threatening traffic problems,” Topolski concluded.
Determined to Go to Dearborn
All this might not be an issue, were it not for the fact that Jones and his associates insist on demonstration at that location–with or without legal approval from the city.
Cpl. Andrea Danak, who works with the Special Events Division of the Dearborn Police Department, said in her affidavit that she spoke with Stephanie Sapp on April 8 and explained the logistical problems of conducting a demonstration there. Sapp and Jones were, on several occasions, informed that Dearborn offers several free speech zones, including one in front of Dearborn City Hall.
According to Cpl. Danak, Sapp said Pastor Jones would be coming to the Islamic Center “even if the application was denied.”
The main reason for the county’s assertion that the court should prohibit Jones from coming to Dearborn is the threat of violence, both in general and directed specifically at Jones.
Jones has received more than 300 death threats via email, mail and phone. A number of them were included in the court filing.
The threats come from as far away as Europe and Russia, and one email claims to be from “a Muslim who lives in Dearborn.” It reads, “I am warning you that whoever attends this prostest (sic) on April 22 will be in great danger.”
Judge Somers may take a number of actions, which could include setting a “peace bond” for Jones, which would require him to pay a sum of money to ensure that his actions will not incite violence. If he does, the bond would not be repaid to him and he would be subject to legal action.
Earlier this week, Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly told Patch that he’s concerned that the pastor may have plans for martyrdom.
“On a couple national interviews, he’s talked about potentially being a martyr,” O’Reilly said. “I’m just hoping that in his own twisted way, he doesn’t think that’s going to be something he can offer the world is his martyrdom to begin to eradicate Muslims or something.”
For a list of where to protest and pray and other events related to Terry Jones' planned visit, click here.