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Update on Dearborn

Bare facts on the arraignment and later court dates here.

The short version is that the city of Dearborn appears not to be backing down (stupid, stupid) on the charges of "breach of the peace" against the four missionaries while at the same time refusing to release their video and even adding questionable procedural practices to the initial violation of their free speech rights. They were arraigned on Monday and a court date of August 3 has been set for admission of evidence.

In this video we learn that the city has finally released the police report on the arrests but that it contains no clear indication of how the missionaries were committing breach of the peace. We also learn that the judge indicated hesitation when the missionaries' lawyer requested a bill of particulars to try to find out how, exactly, they were supposed to have broken the law. I seem to recall something in the Constitution about the right to know the charges against you. I fear that, formally speaking, the all-purpose charge of "breach of the peace" may be taken to cover this, but a refusal to provide a bill of particulars in a timely fashion so that they can prepare their defense should, it seems to me, raise obvious due process issues if this goes to trial. And obviously, continued refusal to release the video should shoot the whole thing down from a due process perspective.

(Brief note: I had to find this update video from a link provided by a reader at the Acts 17 blog, and the video doesn't mention the trial dates. If anyone is reading this from the Acts 17 blog, I just want to say that it would be really helpful if there were one central place where people could go to get such updates and details like the next court date.)

The video is excellent and shows Acts 17's usual humor and intelligence in explaining the facts and rebutting false statements. (See below the fold for another similarly detailed and well-reasoned video.)

I'm rather surprised that the city is not dropping the charges. In my opinion, the smartest thing to do from the city's point of view would be to drop the charges, destroy the video evidence, try to make the missionaries look like whiners if they press a civil rights lawsuit after charges have been dropped, and then just go on doing this to Christians in future years. The threat of arrest would have a chilling effect in itself, even if charges were later dropped, and the police department could hope that they wouldn't be held to account for what they have already done. But it looks like they aren't going to do that. I'm almost inclined to say, "Good. Let them overreach and get themselves in more trouble."

Here is another excellent video in which Dr. Nabeel Qureshi fisks the mayor's clueless and factually inaccurate statement about the case. Do watch it if you're at all interested in this case.

This article (via Gateway Pundit) gives details of the statement from the city's public relations department. The statement accuses the missionaries of "harassing and intimidating patrons of the festival." Obviously, that's something that the video would help to settle, wouldn't it? My own impression is that it was quite the other way around, that the intimidation was coming from the hecklers' side, though of course Acts 17 didn't attempt to get any of the hecklers arrested. Interestingly, there is an intimation of the dangerousness of the crowd in the city's PR statement, which apparently continues (the Detroit News seems to have a quotation mark problem, but I assume this is still quoting the city)

The behavior of these individuals drew and incited a large crowd to a point where they were in violation of city ordinances, including breach of peace and failure to obey the lawful order of a police officer...

Interesting way of putting it, isn't it? If a large crowd gathers and (implication) becomes dangerous, then you, the potential victim, magically at some "point" come to be "in violation of city ordinances" and can be summarily arrested without so much as a word of warning. Odd way they have of thinking of things in Dearborn.

The Detroit News article continues to perpetuate the error that the missionaries were passing out literature when they were arrested. If this is actually being claimed by the police, it will be interesting to see whom they get to perjure himself to substantiate it. (Videotape?) Even clueless mayor O'Reilly didn't claim that, that I recall (his confusion different and included allegations that the police told them to stop talking with the people around them) but the press continues to do so.

Comments (7)

Is it possible the police will be compelled to turn over the video evidence on Aug. 3rd?

Did the judge's "hesitation" mean that no bill of particulars will be forthcoming, or only that he hasn't decided yet?

I can't believe this is happening in America.

I don't know if they can be forced to turn over the video, though a court at some level should certainly rule on appeal that summary judgement should be given if they don't. The long-standing precedent, as I understand it, is that evidence destroyed or suppressed should be presumed to tell in favor of the accused. I fear they've already destroyed the video.

I don't know what the judge's hesitation meant, but you saw how Nabeel worded it. I believe the phrase was "was reluctant to let that happen." Which is bizarre. What possible stake could the judge have in preventing or refusing to order a bill of particulars?

The violations just keep mounting up here.

Next time the Acts 17 folks risk arrest, they need to have some inconspicuous assistants nearby dressed in the local garb and carrying concealed video cameras (see James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles).

I've thought that very thing, Bill White. If they could have live video streaming to the web that would be good too. (Iphones?)

New update here:


City has said (in a legally non-binding way) that they will give them their video footage back today. We shall see.

they need to have some inconspicuous assistants nearby dressed in the local garb and carrying concealed video cameras

Yes. I suggested something like that 3 weeks ago also. It is easy enough to do. They should also rent a room that overlooks the space they are going to operate in, and take video footage from a distance away but inside so it is away from the public.

Anyway, what they really need to do is get a mayor and a city hall that understand and will uphold American laws. Is there any possibility that the judge fears for his safety if he throws the case out?

Could be, but I'd suspect crony-ism before that. I'm still finding myself a bit surprised at how blatant all of this is. Surely they must realize that if they violate due process obviously, they will be slapped down on appeal.

Perhaps this is why they have returned the cameras to the missionaries' lawyers. (See Acts 17 blog.) We won't know until at least tomorrow if the video is there and intact.

Here are some links to relevant interviews that I haven't seen to spread very widely yet though they have been available for a while already:

David Wood interviewed by Mission Network News: https://www.mnnonline.org/player/?media=interview&id=2368&date=2010-06-24

Nabeel Qureshi interviewed by Evidence4Faith: http://www.evidence4faith.com/shows/e4f-062710.mp3

David Wood interviewed by Radio Jihad:

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