AFLC Files Major Brief in Defense of Christians Stoned by Muslims at Dearborn, Michigan Arab Festival
On February 14, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed its response to Wayne County’s motion to dismiss the federal civil rights lawsuit that AFLC filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of several Christian evangelists who were violently attacked by a Muslim mob at the Arab International Festival held in June 2012, in Dearborn, Michigan.
At the festival, several members of Bible Believers, which is a group of Christian evangelists that travels around the country preaching the Gospel, were peacefully preaching when they were viciously attacked by an angry mob of Muslims armed with stones, bottles, and debris. Many of the Christians were bloodied by the attack.
As alleged in the lawsuit, the police officials from the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office failed to protect the Christians and in fact ordered them to leave the Arab Festival under threat of arrest for “disorderly conduct.”
The Christians are suing officials because they sided with the Muslim mob intent on suppressing the Christians’ speech. Both the violent attack and the police officials’ refusal to intervene was captured on video, which has gone viral on YouTube.
Robert Muise, Co-Founder and Senior Counsel of AFLC, commented: “It is a clearly established principle of First Amendment jurisprudence that a listener’s reaction to speech is not a content-neutral basis for regulation. This is known as a ‘heckler’s veto,’ which the First Amendment forbids.”
Along with the response, AFLC filed several exhibits, which included a declaration by the leader of the Christian group, Ruben Israel. Israel’s declaration affirmed the events caught on video.
As shown on video, adult bystanders were seen encouraging the Muslim youths, who were throwing objects, including stones, at the Christians. The Muslims were also shouting profanities and blowing horns to harass the Christians, and some of the Muslims spat on the Christians while mocking their Christian faith. Several of the Christians were bruised and bloodied by the assault.
When Wayne County deputies appeared at the scene of the Muslim violence, the Muslims would briefly halt their attack, only to resume it once the deputies departed. Here, the video clearly shows the mounted police keeping the peace, thereby permitting the Christian’s free speech to continue without interference.
After the attack, Deputy Chief Mike Jaafar, along with Deputy Chief Richardson, confronted the Christians, and in an angry manner Jaafar told Ruben Israel that his deputies were not going to protect him or his companions.
During this confrontation, Deputy Chief Jaafar told Israel that the Christians had "the option to leave." Israel responded that he and his deputies had the option "to stand with us." Jaafar did not respond. Instead, he abruptly departed, thus ignoring the crimes being committed against the Christians by the Muslims and refusing to provide them police protection.
After Deputy Chief Jaafar abruptly departed, Deputy Chief Richardson stepped in and took over. Richardson pulled aside the Christian leader Ruben Israel to discuss the matter further. With blood dripping from his forehead as a result of the Muslim attacks, Israel pleaded with Deputy Chief Richardson to assign just two Wayne County deputies to stand with the Christians during their speech activity, noting that when uniform officers are present, the Muslims stop their criminal assault. Richardson refused.
In fact, while Israel was speaking with Deputy Chief Richardson, Richardson criticized them for their speech, motioning toward the Christians and stating, "Look at your people here. Look it, look it. This is crazy."
Deputy Chief Richardson stepped away from the conversation for a moment and was seen consulting with Ursula Henry, the Director of Legal Affairs for the Wayne County Sheriff's Office. After consulting with Ms. Henry, Richardson returned and told the Christians that if they did not leave the Arab Festival, they would be arrested and criminally charged for disorderly conduct.
Richardson stated, "If you don't leave we are going to cite you for disorderly."
To avoid being cited and arrested by the Wayne County deputies, the Christians ceased their free speech activity and departed the area.
Deputy Chief Richardson claimed that he could not spare just two deputies to allow the Christians to engage in their speech activity free from the Muslim attacks, yet more than a dozen deputies arrived at the scene to ensure that the Christians departed the Arab Festival area under the threat of arrest.
Indeed, in its submission to the court, Wayne County admitted that it had a significant law enforcement presence at the Arab Festival—“larger than the Sheriff’s Department contribution to the Word Series or the President of the United States when he visits Michigan.” In fact, this force consisted of thirty-four (34) deputy sheriffs and nineteen (19) reserve officers, and it included a mounted unit with six (6) horses.
While the Wayne County deputies were directing the Christians to leave the area under the threat of arrest, the Muslim onlookers who were involved in the violent attacks began cheering and shouting "Allah Akbar."
Shortly after the Christians departed the Arab Festival in their van, about a dozen law enforcement officers pulled them over, conducted a traffic stop, and issued the driver a citation. The citation was issued because the Christians had removed the license plate from their van for security reasons—they did not want their vehicle to be identified by any of the Muslim attackers as they were leaving the Arab Festival area.