Crowds Bust Barricades At Pastor's Speech In Dearborn

Published On: Nov 11 2011 08:39:51 AM EST
Updated On: Apr 29 2011 10:53:34 AM EDT
DEARBORN, Mich. -

Florida pastor Terry Jones was outside Dearborn's City Hall for his planned 5 p.m. protest, drawing a crowd of hundreds.

"We're glad to be back," he told reporters. "We're going to talk about a number of issues. Of course Sharia, jihad, what happened last week and we're even going to be talking about president Obama's reelection."

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Counter-protesters lined Michigan Avenue across the street from City Hall. About an hour into the protest, the crowds broke the barricades and a police line. They rushed the street but were quickly contained by riot police crews.

The crowd was throwing water bottles and shoes at supporters of Jones. Police worked to push the crowd back across Michigan Avenue.

At least one arrest was made.

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Dearborn Mayor John O'Reilly Jr. said the city was poised to oversee a constructive event.

"We're hoping that we can have a successful event here, where he can speak and everybody behaves within the boundaries that are anticipated in the Constitution," he said. "Then, that disperses and everyone goes away safely and we move on."

After the protest and counter protest on Friday, O'Reilly said he was not surprised by the tensions in front of City Hall.

"When you challenge people's deepest held beliefs, there is going to be emotions that occur," O'Reilly said. "I always anticipated that there would be an emotional response. I think given the situation, given his failure to do one thing we asked him to do, we came out of this pretty good."

Jones said he was surprised by the reaction of the crowd on Michigan Avenue.

"I'm a little surprised, yeah," Jones said. "I know that people get very emotional, and I understand that. I have more Arab friends than American friends ... I was surprised that it got a little bit out of hand."

He said he did not expect the kind of violence that happened Friday.

"I was always taught that in America if I don't like what you say, then I have a right not to like it. But you also have a right to say it," Jones said.

Local Arab-American leaders were urging the community to ignore Jones.

"We have asked our community, straightforward, not to even come to Michigan Avenue between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.," said Osama Siblani, of the Arab American News.

Jones was arrested last Friday for failing to post a so-called "peace bond" after a jury in Dearborn determined their originally planned protest outside the Islamic Center of America would have breached the peace. He was denied a protest permit.

The Thomas More Law Center said it has already filed a "claim of appeal" on behalf of Jones and fellow pastor Wayne Sapp.

They later posted the bonds of $1 each and were released from jail.

Jones said his constitutional rights were trampled on by the city of Dearborn and the Wayne County prosecutor's office.

A burning of the Quran in March at Jones' church in Florida led to a series of violent protests in Afghanistan that killed more than a dozen people.

The Islamic center is one of the nation's largest mosques. Dearborn is also home to one of the nation's largest populations of Arabs and Muslims.

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