Captain Paul Fields v. City of Tulsa – Closed

Religious Freedom Denied

Captain Paul Fields has served honorably on the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma police department for more than 17 years.  Throughout his entire career, Captain Fields has been a model for other police officers and an exemplary employee of the police department.  Captain Fields is a Christian.  He is not a Muslim, nor does he adhere to the Islamic faith.  He objects to the City of Tulsa, its police department, and its officials promoting, endorsing, or otherwise providing favored treatment to Islam and compelling officers of the police department to attend Islamic events, including the “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day,” which was sponsored by the Islamic Society of Tulsa.

On January 25, 2011, Deputy Chief of Police Webster, who is a defendant in this lawsuit, announced in a staff meeting that the Islamic Society was hosting a “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” that was scheduled for Friday, March 4, 2011.  Friday is the “holy day” or “Sabbath” for Islam.

On Wednesday, February 16, 2011, an email approved by City police officials was sent to all police department personnel, stating, “Please see attached flier and rsvp if attending to ensure there is plenty of great food and tour guides.”  Attached to the email was a flyer from the Islamic Society.

The event at the Islamic Society was not a collaborative event between the City Police Department and the Islamic Society, but simply an open invitation to “All Tulsa Law Enforcement” that was planned solely by the Islamic Society.

There was no agenda on the invitation flyer—nor was one created by City police offficials—for the invited officers to discuss crime or crime related issues of any kind.  Consequently, the Islamic event was not a function of what is known as “Community Policing,” nor did this event involve a “call for service.”  In sum, it was a private event hosted by an Islamic religious organization.

The Islamic event involved “Mosque tours,” meeting “Local Muslims & Leadership,” watching the “weekly congregational prayer service,” and receiving presentations on Islamic “beliefs . . . .  All questions welcome!”  Thus, as advertised, the event involved Islamic proselytizing.  See a copy of the flyer here.  Consequently, no officer under Captain Fields’ command volunteered to attend.

On February 17, 2011, Captain Fields received an email from his immediate supervisor at the Riverside Division, Major Julie Harris.  This email had the subject line, “Tour of Mosque – March 4,” and stated, in relevant part, “We are directed by [Deputy Chief of Police] Webster to have representatives from each shift—2nd, 3rd, and 4th to attend [the Islamic event].”  This email also contained the directive from Webster, which was pasted into the text of the email.  Webster, with the approval of Chief of Police Jordan, who is also a defendant in this lawsuit, was now ordering officers to attend the Islamic event.  It was no longer voluntary.

After receiving the email from Major Harris, Captain Fields met with her to discuss the order from Webster.  He advised Major Harris of his belief that the order was unlawful.  Captain Fields correctly believes that City police officials do not have a right to order police officers to attend an Islamic event against the officers’ personal religious beliefs and convictions.

Captain Fields also responded to the order by email.  In his email response, Captain Fields stated that he believed that the order directing officers to attend the Islamic event was “an unlawful order, as it is in direct conflict with my personal religious convictions, as well as to be conscience shocking.”  Captain Fields concluded his email by stating, “Please consider this email my official notification to the Tulsa Police Department and the City of Tulsa that I intend not to follow this directive, nor require any of my subordinates to do so if they share similar religious convictions.”

On February 18, 2011, Webster sent a three-page interoffice correspondence to Captain Fields by email that affirmed the order and requested Captain Fields to reconsider his position.  Captain Fields again refused based on his religious beliefs, convictions, and conscience.

As a result of Captain Fields’s refusal to compromise his religious beliefs and convictions and violate his conscience, Webster ordered Captain Fields to appear in Jordan’s conference room on Monday, February 21, 2011.

During this meeting with Jordan and Webster, Captain Fields again explained that he believed the order was unlawful and that he could not, in good conscience, obey the order nor force the officers under his charge to obey it.

At the conclusion of this meeting, Captain Fields was served with a pre-prepared order transferring him to the Mingo Valley Division, as well as a notification that the police department was initiating an internal investigation of him for allegedly violating Rule 6 of the Tulsa Police Department Rules and Regulations (“Duty to be Truthful and Obedient”).  The transfer order stated, “This action is taken in reference to an Internal Affairs administrative investigation regarding the refusal to follow a direct order.”

Prior to being transferred for his refusal to violate his personal religious beliefs and those of the officers under his charge, Captain Fields was the shift commander for 26 officers and 5 supervisors.  As a result of this transfer, which is now a permanent part of his personnel record, Captain Fields was stripped of his command and his stellar reputation as a police officer was irreparably tarnished.

On March 10, 2011, Captain Fields received an official notification via email stating, “You are hereby notified that Chief Chuck Jordan has requested IA [Internal Affairs] to conduct an administrative investigation in regards to your refusal to attend and refusal to assign officers from your shift, who shared your religious beliefs, to attend the ‘Law Enforcement Appreciation Day’ on March 4, 2011, at the Tulsa Peace Academy [a.k.a. Islamic Society].

The Islamic Society is a sharia-adherent mosque.  Sharia, while often referred to as Islamic law, is considered by Islamic religious authorities to be the divine law of Allah which is articulated directly to man through the Quran and indirectly through the canonical stories of Mohammed’s life as told through the Sunnah.

In shariah-based Islam’s view, the world and mankind are divided into two irreconcilable groups: Dar Al-Islam, the house of Islam, which is made up of adherents to Islam and where Islamic law rules (or should rule); and Dar Al-Harb, the house of war, which is made up of nonadherents and where “infidels” (known as kuffars, or nonbelievers) live.  Included among the “infidels” are Christians, Jews, and all other non-Muslims, including Captain Fields.  This latter realm is called the “house of war” because it is presumed in shariah that Dar Al-Islam is in a constant state of hostility with Dar Al-Harb until Dar Al-Harb becomes subject to shariah and therefore converted to Dar Al-Islam.  In other words, shariah is hegemonic and universal.

According to extant Islamic teaching, all people will one day accept Islam or submit to its rule.  The Quran commands, “Fight them until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah.”  (Quran 8:39).  Consequently, there is no right of conscience under Islam as compared with Judaism or Christianity or as enshrined in the United States Constitution.

Jihad is another central component of the theo-political doctrine of shariah.  It is considered a communal religious duty for all Muslims throughout the world, including those who attend the Islamic Society.  The Quran informs its followers that there is always a holy war being waged, and instructs them to participate.  For example, the Quran sura 9:29 commands adherents of Islam to “fight against those who do not believe in God or the judgment day, who permit what God and his messenger have forbidden, and who refuse allegiance to the true faith.”  This Quranic verse is codified as normative law among all extant schools of Islamic jurisprudence.

The objective of jihad is not only to convert people to Islam, but also to gain political control and exercise Islamic authority over a population so that society ultimately lives and abides by the principles of Islam.  Thus, the objective is to permit Muslims “to practice Islam as a complete way of life,” which is a stated “aim & purpose” of the “Constitution of the Islamic Society of Tulsa.”  You can read a copy of the “Constitution of the Islamic Society of Tulsa” here.

Whether pursued through the violent form of jihad (holy war) or stealthier practices that shariah Islamists often refer to as “dawa” (the “call to Islam”), shariah rejects fundamental premises of American society and values, including those enshrined in the United State Constitution, such as the proposition that the governed have a right to make laws for themselves, a constitutionally guaranteed republican form of government, the freedom of expression, the free exercise of religion, and the equal protection of the law, among others.

The constitution of the Islamic Society calls for the creation of a “Dawa Council” so as to “upgrade the [Islamic Society’s] Dawa activities.”  The Dawa Council of the Islamic Society is “primarily responsible for disseminating Islamic Knowledge among Muslims and non-Muslims and for promoting an understanding.”

The Islamic Society used the “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” to proselytize and promote what shariah-adherents such as the Muslim Brotherhood have described as “civilization jihad.”

The Islamic Society used photographs of the Islamic event to promote its objectives on its website.  For example, right below a photograph of police officers having a discussion with Muslims at the event, the Islamic Society had the following advertisement, “Discover Islam Courses for Non-Muslims.”  The photograph appeared to be part of the advertisement.  See a copy of the “home page” of the Islamic Society’s website, which usesd the Islamic event for propaganda purposes, here.

The Islamic Society supports and promotes on its website the Council on American Islamic Relations (“CAIR”) and the Islamic Society of North America (“ISNA”).  CAIR and ISNA were un-indicted, co-conspirators and/or joint venturers in the 2008 Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial.  This was the largest terrorism financing trial ever initiated by the United States government, and it concluded with guilty verdicts.

According to its constitution, the Islamic Society “shall establish and maintain continuous affiliation with the Islamic Society of North America, hereinafter referred to as ISNA.”

According to the Islamic Society’s constitution, “The aims and purposes of [the Islamic Society] shall be to serve the best interest of Islam in the greater Tulsa area including the Tulsa city and its satellite towns in northeastern Oklahoma, so as to enable Muslims to practice Islam as a complete way of life.”

To carry out its mission, the Islamic Society “shall” work “in cooperation with ISNA” to, among other things, “carry out Islamic programs and projects within the guidelines of the Quran and Sunnah,” “assist Muslims in organizing themselves for the entire spectrum of Islamic activities,” “[m]obilize and coordinate human and material resources in Muslim communities,” and “promote cooperation with other Muslim organizations on state, regional, national and international (sic) [levels].”

ISNA is the largest Muslim Brotherhood front in North America.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s strategic plan for North America is found in a document entitled, An Explanatory Memorandum: On the General Strategic Goal for the Group (hereinafter “Strategic Goal Memo”), which was written in 1991 by Mohammed Akram, a member of the Board of Directors for the Muslim Brotherhood in North America and a senior Hamas leader.  This document was subsequently approved by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Shura Council and Organizational Conference, and it sets forth the mission of the Muslim Brotherhood in North America as follows:

The process of settlement is a “Civilization Jihadist Process” with all the word means.  The Ikhwan [a.k.a., Muslim Brotherhood] must understand their work in America is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and “sabotaging” its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and God’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.

The Strategic Goal Memo was introduced into evidence by the United States during the Holy Land Foundation terrorism financing trial.

ISNA is listed as the first affiliated organization of the Muslim Brotherhood in the Strategic Goal Memo.

In fact, on February 27, 2011, the Islamic Society held a “free banquet dinner and lecture.”  The keynote speaker for the event, which was publicly advertised on the Islamic Society’s website, was Imam Siraj Wahhaj, a shariah-adherent Muslim who promotes the destruction of Western civilization and the creation of an Islamic caliphate.  In 1992, for example, Imam Wahhaj told a group of Muslims in New Jersey that they could take over the United States and institute a caliphate if they united.  Imam Wahhaj was also called as a character witness for Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called “blind sheik,” who was convicted of conspiring to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993.

For at least the previous 16 years, it was the policy of the City Police Department that a police officer’s attendance at any event involving religion or a place of religious worship that was not a call for service nor organized by the department as a function of Community Policing for the purpose of discussing crime or crime related issues was strictly voluntary.  Consequently, under the policies and practices existing at the time of the event held by the Islamic Society, attendance at the event should have been strictly voluntary.

On June 9, 2011, the City punished Captain Fields for exercising his constitutional rights by suspending him without pay for 80 hours/10 days, subjecting him to further scrutiny and the possibility of “more severe disciplinary action, including dismissal,” prohibiting him from being “considered for future promotions for a period of . . . at least one (1) year,” and making his temporary transfer to the Mingo Valley Division permanent.  As further punishment, the City assigned Captain Fields to the “graveyard” shift.

According to the City’s official personnel order, which set forth the terms of Captain Fields’ punishment, the City punished him in part due to his “actions and writings that were made public” because they allegedly “brought discredit upon the department.”  However, any “writings” that were internal communications or made pursuant to any of Captain Fields’ official duties became public as a result of an Oklahoma Open Records Act request submitted by a third party.  Moreover, it was the City’s unconstitutional actions against Captain Fields that brought “discredit upon the department,” and those actions were properly brought to public attention and covered by the media as a result of this civil rights action, which the public has a right to access.

[Read a copy of the Complaint here]

CASE UPDATE (May 31, 2012): AFLC submitted an expert report on Islam and how the so-called “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day” was an Islamic proselytizing event that promoted the Muslim Brotherhood’s Dawa (“Call to Islam”) mission.  You can read that report here.  AFLC also submitted an expert report on Police policies and practies that shows that the order to Captain Fields that he attend and order his men to attend the Islamic event was an unlawful order.  Read the report here.

CASE UPDATE (August 14, 2012): AFLC Senior Counsel Robert Muise filed a motion for summary judgment with supporting exhibits in federal court in Oklahoma, arguing that the court should rule in Tulsa Police Captain Paul Fields’ favor on his religious liberty claims as a matter of law.  Read legal brief here.

CASE UPDATE (September 7, 2012): AFLC Senior Counsel Robert Muise filed a brief in opposition to the “motion for judgment” filed by Chief of Police Jordan and Deputy Chief of Police Webster. Read the brief here.

CASE UPDATE (September 7, 2012): AFLC Senior Counsel Robert Muise filed a response in opposition to the City’s motion to exclude evidence. Read the brief here.

CASE UPDATE (September 18, 2012): AFLC Senior Counsel Robert Muise filed a reply brief in support of motion of partial summary judgement on the issue of liability. Read the brief here.

CASE UPDATE (December 26, 2012):  AFLC has filed a notice of appeal seeking review of the lower court’s decision in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

CASE UPDATE (March 11, 2013): AFLC filed its opening brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

CASE UPDATE (May 2, 2013): AFLC filed its reply brief in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

CASE UPDATE (June 5, 2014): AFLC filed its petition for en banc review of the three-judge panel’s adverse ruling.

CASE UPDATE (September 15, 2014): AFLC filed a petition for writ of certiorari, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to grant review of the case.

CASE UPDATE (November 6, 2014): AFLC filed its reply in support of its petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case.

CASE UPDATE (December 1, 2014): Supreme Court denied review.  Case closed.