And when they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
But Peter and the apostles answered and said, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him." (Acts 5:27-32)
It was with great pleasure that I read the following press release from Michigan State Representative Tom McMillin:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 24, 2010
State Representative Tom McMillin
State Rep. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) had the following statement regarding the verdicts given in the trial of the four Christian missionaries arrested at the Dearborn Arab American Festival:
Today in Dearborn, the jury got it mostly right in finding Paul, David and Nabeel innocent of disturbing the peace. The city of Dearborn, the Dearborn Police and especially the Dearborn Mayor owe them a huge apology immediately.
However the guilty decision for Negeen Mayel's charge of failure to obey a police officer is extremely disturbing to me. I met with the ACLU here in Michigan recently to make sure we had good laws protecting citizens' right to video police officers and their activity and they said we have the model for other states. But based on today's decision, it seems that police in Michigan can get cameras turned off before doing questionable things (like making an arrest that was just found to be bogus by the jury). And how did the police have the right to tell Negeen Mayel to turn off her video camera and how can he touch her....for what reason? The video she took made it clear the police stepped way out of bounds.
Now - for all this charade, the city of Dearborn needs to be dealt with firmly....unless they plan to try to secede from the union and have their own laws. This is the United States of America and we here in the USA have something called Freedom of Speech. Dearborn - get used to it!
If you’re not familiar with this case, it involves four Christians; Nabeel Qureshi, Negeen Mayel, Paul Rezkalla, and David Wood; who were arrested at an Arab Festival in Dearborn Michigan for preaching the gospel to Muslims. Police reports indicated that the actions of the four Christians were inciting the crowd and could possibly have led to a riot. Videos taken by the four, however, showed quite clearly that they were engaged in peaceful exchanges with people who wished to speak with them. In fact, it was quite clear from the video that Nabeel Qureshi, in particular, exhibited great patience and skill in defusing hostilities and avoiding pointless arguments.
I am not at all surprised at this acquittal. Actually, I’m still dealing with a sense of unbelief that the charges were not dropped weeks ago, as soon as the videos taken by the four were made public, since the videos clearly showed that the charges being brought were false.
I join Representative McMillin in being disturbed by the conviction of Negeen Mayel for failure to obey a police officer, and I fully expect her conviction to be overturned on appeal.
I have long been, and continue to be, a strong supporter of law enforcement; however any authority can be abused. Citizens are only required to obey the lawful orders of law enforcement personnel. If, for example, a police officer ordered you to rob a bank, you would be correct to disobey such an order, since the police officer has no lawful authority to order you to disobey the law. Indeed, “I was just following orders” was not considered a valid defense for the Nazis to use for their illegal and immoral actions at the Nuremberg trials, was it?
Ever since the broadcast of the Rodney King video tapes, and the subsequent trial of the officers involved, there have been those in law enforcement who do not want their actions recorded. Yet it is clear to me that such recordings do more to protect the rights of free citizens than just about anything else, including the presence of eyewitnesses.
Since it should’ve been clear, and most likely was to the police officers involved, that their actions in arresting Nabeel Qureshi, Negeen Mayel, Paul Rezkalla, and David Wood were not lawful, it is understandable why they would not want those actions recorded. But their desire to not be recorded as they violated the Constitutional rights of American citizens makes Negeen Mayel’s refusal to obey their unlawful orders that much more heroic.
And yet, despite this acquittal by a jury, Dearborn officials continue to issue statements such as this one from Mayor O’Reilly, as reported by the Detroit Free Press:
Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly Jr. said Friday night that he respects the decision, but the missionaries were anti-Muslim bigots pulling a publicity stunt to gain attention on YouTube in order to raise money.
"It's really about a hatred of Muslims," O'Reilly said. "That is what the whole heart of this is. ... Their idea is that there is no place for Muslims in America. They fail to understand the Constitution."
Mayor Riley is certainly right about one thing, someone is failing to understand the Constitution!
I continue to follow the story, and I look forward to someday soon being able to rejoice in Negeen Mayel’s eventual and inevitable acquittal!