Quran-burning Florida Pastor Terry Jones and his associate Wayne Sapp posted bond and were released an hour after being arrested and jailed today for refusing at first to pay the $1 bond set for each of them.
Judge Mark Somers set the $1 peace bond after a six-person jury decided in Dearborn's 19th District Court that Jones and Sapp were likely to breach the peace through a planned protest.
The bond was set on condition that Jones and Sapp not enter the premises of the Islamic Center of America or the nearby area for three years. Jones and Sapp had planned to protest Friday near the center.
The Wayne County prosecutor's office confirmed this evening that Jones and Sapp both posted bond about an hour after their 7 p.m. arrest and were released from the Wayne County Jail.
After the arrest, a crowd of about 20 protesters surrounded the police car with Jones inside at the courthouse, shouting things like, "Jones is a racist." They also surrounded and heckled Jones supporter David Grisham, a Texas pastor who had come to testify on Jones and Sapp's behalf.
Jones and his fellow demonstrators, several of whom were called as witnesses in court, said earlier Friday that they would attempt to protest at the no matter what the jury decided – even if that meant they would be arrested for their actions.
"We're willing to go to jail for it," said Rabbi Nachum Shifren, a witness called by Sapp to testify. Shifren said he was planning to join them at the protest at the Islamic Center, the nation's largest mosque.
The prosecutor had asked for a $45,000 bond.
The ACLU of Michigan had filed a friend of the court brief, Communications Director Rana Elmir said, "on behalf of the principle that if the First Amendment means anything, it means that the government cannot interfere in a person’s free speech simply because it doesn’t agree with the message or because someone else may not agree with the message."
The ACLU had asked that Judge Somers to throw out the verdict if the jury found Sapp and Jones likely to breach the peace. "Our government cannot put a price on free speech because of the reactions of another group," she added.
As court came into session Friday morning just before 9 a.m., Jones and Sapp sported Harley-Davidson T-shirts, with Jones' now-signature leather jacket slung over his chair.
Opening arguments for Jones and Sapp centered around First Amendment rights to free speech.
“You may not agree with what we’ve done," Jones said of his Quran burning during the jury trial Friday in Dearborn's . "This is, to a certain extent, a First Amendment issue ... and the First Amendment does us no good if it confines us to saying what popular opinion is.”
Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor and Chief of Special Investigations Robert Moran saw things differently. He noted that Dearborn Police denied Jones' event permit, but also told him that he and his associates could demonstrate in one of the city's free speech zones "in the interest of public safety."
“They said 'No,'" Moran said. "They said, 'We’re going to come demonstrate where we want, when we want, regardless of the law.'”
Jones contended that free speech zones are "ridiculous."
"All we want to do is exercise our First Amendment rights," Jones said. "Those free-speech zones are absolutely ridiculous. Freedom of speech does not have speech zones."
Several witnesses were called, including Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad, who stated he believed it "would be totally irresponsible" for his department to have granted Jones' permit request to demonstrate in front of the Islamic Center of America. He added that he believed it was likely that someone would commit a violent act at the protest.
"There’s a strong likelihood that an instigator will be there and violence will occur," Haddad said. "I hope it doesn’t, but I have grave concern based on the intelligence we’ve developed."
Several concerned citizens came into the courtroom during a mid-morning break and spoke with Sapp, urging both him and Jones to take home a different view of Dearborn.
"We might not change (Jones and Sapp's) views on Islam and Muslims in America, but ... when you go back to Florida, at least be open minded enough to acknowledge the fact that we are different here in Dearborn," said Mahdi Saad, a Dearborn resident and Muslim. "Maybe we can’t change your view of Muslims all around the world. But at least go back with a different view of the people in Dearborn."
The hearing was originally set for Thursday before Judge Mark Somers, but was at Jones' request after he denied the option of paying a bond set by Somers.
Jones' original protest was set for 5-8 p.m. Friday evening at the Islamic Center The city, however, denied his permit request due to space and safety issues–a decision that Judge Somers agreed with. The Wayne County prosecutor's office then on April 15, asserting that they had reason to believe that Jones would breach the peace and incite a riot.
Meanwhile, at the Islamic Center, local religious leaders met Friday morning to call for peace and nonviolence.