The Thomas More Law Center confirmed that an appeal will be filed Tuesday afternoon with the Wayne County Circuit Court on behalf of Florida Pastor Terry Jones regarding the that barred him from demonstrating in front of the last Friday.
Jones is also expected to separately file a lawsuit against the Wayne County prosecutor’s office and the city of Dearborn, as both entities were involved in to defend his right to protest. He has also stated that he plans to return to Dearborn this Friday to protest at Dearborn’s at 5 p.m.—not against radical Islam, but for free speech.
The April 22 ruling was issued by Judge Mark Somers after a daylong jury trial at Dearborn’s . The ruling required that Jones and his Dove World Outreach Center associate Wayne Sapp each pay a $1 peace bond and stay away from the Dearborn mosque for three years.
The ruling was issued after a jury of six Dearborn residents found that Sapp and Jones were likely to breach the peace, based on the fact that the men planned to demonstrate in that area even after the city of Dearborn denied their permit request.
The Wayne County prosecutor’s office refused to comment on the lawsuit, but stood by the ruling.
“These proceedings were solely about public safety. This was never about prohibiting free speech or fearing rioting but about a situation that could potentially place the public in danger in Dearborn," said Prosecutor Kym Worthy. "I will continue to take stands to be proactive in keeping Wayne County safe whether it is popular to do so or not."
The city of Dearborn issued a statement Tuesday morning in an effort to educate residents on the situation, as well as to affirm that its decision to deny Jones’ permit was legal.
“Since the content of Pastor Jones’ message has never been the issue,” the statement reads, “the city believes it is on solid ground regarding potential legal challenges to any action it has taken so far.”
Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly further clarified that the city would be fine with any legal challenges to the court’s ruling and the city’s denial of Jones’ permit.
“I welcome that opportunity, because that’s where it should be–not in the court of public opinion, but in a legitimate court that looks at all the facts, weighs them and makes a determination based on precedent,” O’Reilly said. “Worst-case scenario, they come back and say, ‘You erred. You went too far in that direction.’ Then ... we modify and we do whatever is necessary.
“But at the time, we made our best judgment,” he added. “We applied the law as we understood was the right balance between competing interests, and we’re prepared to go and have that adjudicated if that’s what people want to do.”
As for Jones’ planned protest this Friday, O’Reilly said the city welcomes him to speak at one of the city’s designated free-speech zones, . The statement issued said that the city is “preparing appropriately to manage the large crowds that may be drawn to support or counter Pastor Jones’ message.”
However, as with last week’s planned demonstration, O’Reilly said the city is urging parties on both sides of the argument to keep it civil.
“We think the best thing people in the community could do is just ignore him and do nothing,” O’Reilly said. “That’s our position.”
He added, however, that the city recognizes the likelihood that there will be supporters and counter-protesters.
“If you want to do that, then do it in conversation,” he suggested. “Do it in terms of making your statement a positive statement about what you believe–but not confrontation.
“The city’s goal is to try and avoid confrontation.”
Law Center Fighting Dearborn on Several Fronts
Jones' case isn't the Thomas More Law Center's only legal effort involving Dearborn, nor is it the only one involving the dissemination of anti-Islamic messages.
The Ann Arbor-based nonprofit law group, which has a mission to "protect religious freedom of Christians," filed a lawsuit against the city and members of the Arab American Chamber of Commerce on behalf of four Christian missionaries who were arrested for disturbing the peace at Dearborn's Arab International festival last June.
According to the city of Dearborn, four members of the Acts 17 Apologetics were speaking to a large crowd at the festival and allegedly were agitating and harassing festival goers. When police ordered them to disperse, the situation escalated and they were arrested for breaching the peace and not following officers' orders.
The case, the center said, is a clear sign that Muslim influence is overpowering law in Dearborn.
“Muslims dominate the political and law enforcement process in Dearborn," said TMLC President and Chief Counsel Richard Thompson in a statement released by the center. "It seems that police were more interested in placating the mayor and Muslims than obeying our Constitution.
"This is a classic example of stealth Jihad being waged right here in America," he added, "and it should be a wake-up call for all patriotic Americans.”
The city alleged in a statement after the incident that the incident "has nothing to do with First Amendment Rights, it has to do with public safety and the individual choices made by the arrested parties."