An attorney has asked a court for an injunction in a case seeking to prevent the restriction of Christians who want to give testimony of their faith during the 2013 Arab International Festival in Dearborn, Mich.
The defendants are two Wayne County deputy police chiefs, the county and the county’s sheriff.
The allegations in a federal civil rights lawsuit say the authorities last year – when the Christians were being assaulted with stones, bottles and other debris by Muslims at the city event – told the Christians to leave or be arrested.
The Christians are represented by the American Freedom Law Center, which has handled a number of cases on behalf of Christians attacked or arrested at the event in Dearborn, which has one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States.
The legal team is seeking an injunction that prevents authorities from restricting the Christian evangelists from displaying their banners and signs on the public sidewalks next to the festival, which will be in June.
Robert Muise, co-founder of the AFLC, argued in court for the injunction, but no ruling was issued immediately.
The move follows the 2012 incident in which Christian evangelists walking on public sidewalks surrounding the event while carrying signs with biblical messages were assaulted with stones, bottles and debris by attendees of the festival.
The signs that brought on the attack included “Know the God of the Bible” and “Trust Jesus.”
Several of the Christian demonstrators walked away bruised and bloodied from the attack. Ruben Israel, the leader of the group, pleaded with law enforcement officials to intervene so that the demonstration could continue peacefully.
However, the officer refused and demanded the Christians leave the premises or face arrest for disorderly conduct.
Shortly after, Israel contacted AFLC, which filed a federal lawsuit against Wayne County and several officials from the Wayne County sheriff’s office. AFLC charged that the officers failed to uphold their constitutional duty to protect the Christians.
A video has been released of the 2012 confrontation that explains authorities not only failed to protect the Christians, they ordered them to leave the Arab festival under threat of arrest for “disorderly conduct.”
However, not one Muslim was arrested for the attack, which left several members of the Christian group bloodied, the video says.
The video, and a related complaint, showed the crowd – reminiscent of a rock-throwing “intifada” scene from the Middle East – hurling a dizzying barrage of objects at the Christians, who were standing passively with their signs, causing some injuries.
WND later learned that the Christian crowd had been carrying a pole with a pig’s head attached to the top, further angering the Muslim crowd. At the beginning of the video, Christian street preachers shout, “God is good, and God is not Allah!”
A the 2:17 mark of the video, the mob can be heard screaming: “You want to jump ’em? C’mon, let’s go!”
One boy yells, “Let’s beat the sh-t out of them!”
A girl shouts, “Go home! Do you understand English?!”
Despite the attacks the Christians endured, a man identified in the video as Deputy Chief Dennis Richardson of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office tells them, “You’re a danger to the safety right now.”
Officers claim they don’t have the manpower to protect the Christians at the festival.
“Your safety is in harm’s way. You need to protect everybody,” said Deputy Chief Mike Jaafar of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. “You do have the option to leave. I just want to make that clear.”
Israel replied, “You have the option to stand with us” as Jaafar walked away, leaving the Christians to the mob.
When police leave, the crowd continues harassing the Christians and screaming profanities.
Then police begin escorting the Christians away from the crowd.
Richardson tells Israel: “We have the responsibility of policing the entire festival, and obviously your conduct is such that it’s causing a disturbance and is a direct threat to the safety of everyone here. Someone could get hurt. You already have blood on your face. One of the festival people, one of my officers, anybody can get hurt. Now we’re going to escort you out.”
Israel explains that the mob throws things and becomes more aggressive when police leave the scene.
“Part of the reason that they throw things on someone is because you tell them stuff that enrages them,” Richardson argues.
AFLC said the Christians were wearing shirts with Scripture quotes and Christian messages.
(Editor’s note: The following 22-minute video contains profane statements shouted by an angry mob and may be offensive to viewers.)
A separate and unrelated case over the arrests of several Christians at the same events in 2010 recently was settled by the city with its payment of undisclosed damages as well as a commitment to post an apology to the Christians on the city's website for years into the future.
However, that case continues with the Arab chamber of commerce as a defendant.