DEARBORN — Florida Pastor Terry Jones returned to Dearborn on Wednesday with a group of 12 people to protest against Muslim students at Edsel Ford High School, with claims that they are allegedly bullying non-Muslim students. The protest, which was scheduled to take place from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. barely left any sort of impact, with counter-protestors from coalition group By Any Means Necessary (BAMN) actually out-numbering Jones' efforts. In fact the protest seemed so insignificant that Jones pulled the plug early on the entire event.
Despite the protests occurring outdoors, the students and faculty at Edsel Ford had been busy taking the MEAP tests, resulting in little to no interaction with Terry Jones. Before the protest had begun, Jones had called upon non-Muslim students at Edsel Ford to stage a walkout if they felt they were being bullied against Muslim students. But nothing of that sort happened. Instead, Jones was able to stroll around the back of the school building with police supervision looking for students to speak with, but had no luck interacting with any.
Jones did however get some form of interaction with Dearborn residents who were driving by on Rotunda Drive who screamed profanities at the pastor. Dearborn Police say no arrests were made during Jones' visit, but they had long been prepared for the event. Dozens of officers from the Dearborn Police Department, the Wayne county Sheriff's Department and Michigan State Police were at the scene prepared to handle any forms of altercations.
Around 2:30 p.m. Jones and his supporters had packed up and were ready to leave the high school, partly due to heavy rain that had hit the city during the hours Jones had planned to protest. Before he left, Jones did touch base on the infamous anti-Islamic film that drew a firestorm of controversy last month with some media outlets that were present. According to Jones, he had recently been contacted by the Obama Administration, asking him to stop promoting the film. Jones told the Detroit News that he had a 40 minute discussion with chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff.
Jones also claimed he tried to arrange a meeting with Edsel Ford Principal and faculty in order to discuss "the persistent problem of Muslim teens beating up other students," but he was denied a meeting. The school's approach to proceed as if it were any other day seemed to have worked. After school activities resumed like any other day, and by 4:00 p.m. students were practicing in the school's football field.
Dearborn Schools Spokesman David Mustonen says Edsel had prepared students and their parents days prior on how the situation would be handled. The district, along with the city of Dearborn, held an informational meeting last week because parents had questioned whether there was going to be school that day. But all parents were informed that a normal school day would presume as planned.
|Members from BAMN counter protest against Jones, outnumbering his efforts.|
“For us it was business as usual. That was our approach...teachers were still teaching and students were still learning, it was a pretty normal school day. I was there all day and they were all just doing the regular stuff like any other day. The school did do some things to talk with students about his visit prior, but more specifically they focused on civic engagement and civil rights,” Mustonen stated.
Additionally, Mustonen says that the information Jones is spreading about bullying problems between Muslim and non-Muslim students is not true.
“He's never talked to us or been in contact with the district. We don't know where he got that information from. His claims are not accurate at all,” Mustonen added.
Jones himself said that he felt his safety was in jeopardy, making it known that he brought along a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun with him, but he was unable to bring the weapon on school property, due to police request that Jones keep the gun in his car.
Jones had visited Dearborn in 2011, when his first visit to the city protesting against "Sharia law" resulted in heavy media coverage as well as outcry from both residents and city officials. His original plans to protest in front of the Islamic Center of America had to be relocated to city hall after the city refused to give him a permit. However during his second visit to Dearborn earlier this year, he was finally given permission to protest in front of the mosque, but the event drew very minimal coverage, similar to the events that unfolded during his visit this week.
Jones denied entry to Canada
After his visit to Dearborn, Jones planned to attend a pro freedom of speech event in Toronto, but was denied entry at the Detroit-Windsor border, where border patrol had searched his vehicle and questioned him for four hours before denying him entry. According to Jones, Canadian officials had repeatedly asked him questions about his affiliation to the anti-Islamic film "Innocence of Islam," and denied him entry due to two previous citations, one of them being his arrest in Dearborn in 2011, where he refused to pay a $1 peace bond.