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Dearborn Has Issues With The Constitution. Again.

Why is it that some areas whose elected officials swear to “protect and defend” the laws and the Constitution do the exact opposite?

Case in point is the city of Dearborn, Michigan.

We first took notice of Dearborn back in April of 2011. The first issue was when the city declared protesting on public property was not allowed. The city then doubled down on stupid and declared certain areas “free speech zones,” and relegated protestors to those “free speech zones” which just happened to be four miles from public property where the protestors wanted to protest.

The city lost those two cases in court, but then when a group of people stormed barricades designed to keep protestors and contra-protestors apart, it was the group that did not cross the barricades nor fail to obey police instructions that was blamed for the incident.

And of course, Dearborn was the “home” to the reality TV show “All American Muslim” which was cancelled amidst controversy after Lowes pulled advertisements from the show.

Now the city has lost another round in court where the free speech rights of citizens were violated.

The group “Stand Up America Now,” headed by Pastor Wayne Sapp and Pastor Terry Jones (yes, that Terry Jones) wanted to stand in a public area of a park and hand out literature concerning Christianity. They planned to do this on Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter. The public area they chose to distribute the flyers was in front of the Dearborn Islamic Center.

The group filed for a permit and was told everything was fine and all they had to do was sign a waiver of indemnity called a “Hold Harmless Agreement” with the city.

The Hold Harmless Agreement the city of Dearborn required the group to sign contained the following terms:

a. “In consideration for the right to utilize City of Dearborn property. Standup America! and Wayne Sapp, their employees, representatives, agents and participants agree to RELEASE AND FOREVER DISCHARGE the City of Deaborn, a minicipal corporation, and its officers, employees and agents from any and all claims, liabilities, or lawsuits, including legal costs and reasonable attorney fees, resulting from their activities on City of Deaborn Property.

b. “Standup America!” and Wayne Sapp’s employees, agents, representatives, and participants have been notified of this Release, and are aware of, understand and fully appreciate, all possible risks associated with the participation in their activities on City of Dearborn property on April 7, 2012. These risks could result in damage to property, personal, and/or bodily injury or death, including injuries or death to the individual participants.

c. “Standup America!and Wayne Sapp hereby agree to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the City of Dearborn, its officers, agents, representatives, and departments from and against any and all claims and causes of action of any kind arising out of or in connection with their activities on City of Dearborn Property.

The agreement effectively meant that if groups of counter protestors decided to get violent with the Stand Up America! group, the city had no duty to protect group. The city was simply saying to the protestors “you’re on your on. Good luck!”

The problem with this is that the government is required to protect the rights of citizens. That key fact is the reason we form governments – to insure our rights and liberties will not be trampled upon. In addition, if a person was injured or property damaged, the “Hold Harmless” agreement meant Stand Up America! would be held accountable for the damages.

Even if you don’t agree with Sapp, Jones and their group (and in many ways, we do not) we respect their right to say what they want, hand out literature where they want, and to be protected by the government.

After telling the City of Dearborn to basically “stick the agreement where the sun doesn’t shine,” Stands Up America! contacted the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor

The Thomas More Law Center is a national nonprofit public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, dedicated to the restoration and defense of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life. It also supports a strong national defense and an independent and sovereign United States of America.

On April 4, 2012, the Thomas More Law Center filed a request for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the City of Dearborn requiring the “Hold Harmless Agreement” to be signed.

The following day, April 5, 2012, Judge Denise Page Hood issued a TRO against the city and allowed the protest to go forth.

The day of the protest, the Thomas More Law Center had a reporter and film crew at the site documenting the event.

As you watch the video, keep in mind a Lieutenant David Robinson of the Dearborn Police Department had sent Stand Up America! a list of regulations the group must follow during their event. The list was signed by Chief of Police Ronald Haddad.

Two of the regulations seem germane:

2. You may not interfere with, or engage in physical contact with anyone entering, exiting, or passing by an establishment. Threats, whether verbal, posturing, or by printed word, constitute interference.

….

12. Disorderly conduct will not be tolerated. This includes drunkenness, improper conduct, improper noise, creating a disturbance, using indecent language, gambling, assaults, jostling, throwing stones or other objects.

The proscribed conduct can be seen by the counter protestors.

Where are the police? Why aren’t people being arrested?

Why does the video contrast with an article from the local newspaper, the “Press and Guide,” which states:

For all the hoopla, all the hand-wringing, and all the legal posturing, Terry Jones’ demonstration Saturday was decidedly quiet.

There were four distinct groups on hand, about 125 people at most combined: Police, media, counter-demonstrators, and the controversial Florida minister’s followers. The size of the various contingents, from largest to smallest, went in that order.

In the end, there is a difference in the way the event was portrayed in the media. We believe that portrayal and viewpoint is highly dependent upon whose opx is being gored. However, one thing cannot be denied – the City of Dearborn has a decided hatred against free speech. They have tried to restrict people’s rights time and time again, and yet like pigs returning to a slough, they continue to support ideas and laws that are contrary to the Constitution.

While the Department of Justice is looking into the Trayvon Martin / George Zimmerman case for a possible civil rights violation, one would think they would take a look at the leaders of a town that repeatedly and overtly violate the rights of people.

Is that really too much to ask?



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