- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 24, 2011

DEARBORN, Mich. | The Rev. Terry Jones, who was jailed briefly Friday after refusing to pay a peace bond following a jury trial here over a protest permit, said he may sue Wayne County and other government agencies for violating his constitutional rights to free speech.

Mr. Jones, who caused a worldwide furor after he and members of his Florida church vowed to burn a Koran last Sept. 11, said over the weekend he is consulting with the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, a Christian public-interest law firm, about his arrest on Good Friday.

He plans to return this Friday to Dearborn, home to one of the nations largest Arab-American populations, to protest at City Hall in a case that has angered free-speech advocates including the Michigan ACLU, which had filed an amicus brief in the case Friday.

A jury found that Mr. Jones and Pastor Wayne Sapp, both of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., were likely to breach the peace with their plan to protest on public property outside a large mosque, and the city refused to give the two men a permit.

Using a law on the books since the 1920s, the city asked them to pay a peace bond of more than $40,000 that they said would be needed to cover costs for public safety during the protest. The ministers refused, saying their planned demonstration was to be peaceful, and a district judge ordered a trial.

A six-member jury ruled against them Friday evening and Judge Mark Somers of Michigan’s 19th District Court, set the peace bond at $1.

When Mr. Jones and Mr. Sapp refused to pay it, the judge ordered them to jail, stunning many in the crowd who said during the proceedings they thought free speech rights would prevail. The case sparked unity rallies across the city among church congregations and intense police presence.

Although the two men declined to post their $1 bond at first, they later paid the fee Friday night, “under the greatest protest” and left Detroit on Saturday amid the same media crush that followed them when they arrived Thursday.

On his groups website, Standupamericanow.org, Mr. Jones urged his backers to join him in support of his rights and support him financially. The website featured a photo of him behind bars.

“We invite every American who still believes in the freedom and rights that our Constitution guarantees to come and stand with us,” he said, blaming the Islamic Center of America, near where he had planned to protest.

“We were told that we were able to present our message in front of one of the ‘Free Speech Zones,’ but we were NOT allowed to present our message in the grassy area in front of the mosque. Thus making it very clear that this is not about our message, and not about us, but about the place,” Mr. Jones wrote.

He added: “Sharia[h] is much closer than we thought. The judge even made a statement, that if the mosque elders and leadership would have desired the restraints placed on us of not going near the mosque be lifted, then he would have taken that into consideration.”

In his ruling, the judge ordered Mr. Jones and Mr. Sapp to stay away from the mosque for three years. The city, after declining a permit to protest near the mosque, offered a place in “free-speech zones,” which they declined, calling such zones unconstitutional.

Mr. Jones backed down from his Koran-burning threat last September after pleas from U.S. military commanders and President Obama. But in March, he put the Muslim holy book “on trial,” found it guilty and burned one. Protests and demonstrations against the act occurred as far away as Afghanistan and about 20 people were reported killed.