Saturday, September 25, 2010

Dearborn Four Found "Not Guilty"

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!

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11 comments:

Carla said...

Considering the legal definition of libel:

"To publish in print (including pictures), writing or broadcast through radio, television or film, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others."

I have to wonder if Mayor O’Reilly has not just opened himself and the city to a civil lawsuit by issuing his very poorly thought out statement.

Honestly, if I were one of the Dearborn four, I would very seriously consider filing just such a suit. In an attempt to cover his own butt, (sorry for being so blunt, but we all know it's true) and retain some sympathy for his position he's spewing out this garbage against these Christians.

This is wrong on EVERY level. He should not get away with it any more than anyone else should who goes around publicly lying about people.

Shame on this man.

wbmccarty said...

State laws vary. In some states ("one-party states"), it's permissible to record someone, including a police officer, without his/her consent. In others ("two-party states"), consent of the person being recorded is required. Does anyone know the law in Michigan? I'm no attorney, but much in this case seems to me to depend on that issue of fact.

Haecceitas said...

wbmccarthy, during the 2009 festival this same group (well, 2 of the 4 that were there this year) specifically asked a Michigan police officer if they are allowed to record at the festival and the officer said yes. That year they got assaulted by Muslim security guards but the police officers weren't part of it.

wbmccarty said...

Sorry to be so brief as to be unclear.

Some commentators on this matter seem to assume that we have a first amendment right to record the world around us. But, as I understand it, under some states' laws, we don't have that right.

Whether the police officer's order to cease recording was lawful may turn not on the U.S. constitution but on whether Michigan is a one- or two-party state. I very much hope that Michigan *is* a one-party state. But the results of my quick web search suggest that Michigan is unfortunately a two-party state.

That the act of recording critical evidence leading to the just exoneration of these defendants might have been illegal makes my head hurt. Given the many notable cases of violation by police officers of civil liberties, we may need special legislation to establish citizens' rights to record police activity.

The Squirrel said...

wbmccarty said...
"Does anyone know the law in Michigan?"

State Rep. McMillin addressed that in his press release:

"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."

Also, I think that there is no reasonable right to privacy on a public street, anyway.

Squirrel

wbmccarty said...

I'm unsure what to make of the ACLU's representation that Michigan's laws are a "model for other states" in "protecting citizens' right to video police officers and their activity." Perhaps my information is out of date. But I tend to give substantial weight to the distressing fact that the charge of disobeying a police officer was successfully prosecuted, which seems inconsistent with the ACLU's assessment.

In any case, my personal concern reaches beyond the current case and even beyond the state of Michigan, especially since I, like many others, live in another of the 12 two-party states. Here's some related news from the two-party state of Massachusetts:

* Police Fight Cellphone Recordings

* Boston Cops: Citizen Recording of Abusive Busts Is "Illegal Wiretapping"

The CATO Institute recently held a policy forum on this issue. But I don't have access to the opinions expressed at the forum.

Sir Aaron said...

This is sort of a side issue, but I've always warned about "privacy" laws. Most of these two party states became that way because a private detective or some other non-law enforcement person recorded somebody doing something immoral. Next thing you know privacy laws are being used to restict your freedoms. And why did we need such privacy laws? To protect against government intrusion? No, to cover up evil.

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.

I'm a Fed and I've had people including press taking pictures. I just tell them to stay out of the way. Thinking about it now, I should actually ask for a copy of the recording.

Sir Aaron said...

I'll say one other thing. I've seen videos during training sessions that make it appear one way when in fact, the truth was something else. (for example a man that appeared to be unarmed but only because the angle of the video didn't capture the gun).

Still, I'd rather trust in God that I'll be ultimately vindicated then act like a goon.

The Squirrel said...

Aaron,

I agree, people don't want to be videoed because they don't want to be seen doing something wrong. ""This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)

You said, "I've seen videos during training sessions that make it appear one way when in fact, the truth was something else." I've seen those same training videos. It's like instant replay in football, the more cameras there are, recording from different angles, the more likely that everything will get recorded. I wouldn't mind seeing law enforcement officers equipped with "hat cams" - the technology has gotten so small and lightweight that a head-mounted cam that captured the officer's viewpoint would be almost unobtrusive. It's the dash-cam taken to the next level.

Squirrel

Sir Aaron said...

Interestingly, the dash cams were installed because they usually benefit the officer.

The Squirrel said...

"Interestingly, the dash cams were installed because they usually benefit the officer."

Well, let's be honest: 99.99% of the time, the police officers are the good guys and need protection from the fictions Concocted by unscrupulous defense lawyers defending unrepentant miscreants.

I have no doubt that the officers and the Dearborn case represent a minority of police officers in America, in that they are willing to falsified evidence, etc.

But I also understand that police officers are drawn from the ranks of totally depraved humanity, and are just as likely to fall in to temptation is any other human being on the planet, and should be held accountable by others.

Squirrel