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City of Dearborn limits free speech around Arab Festival


by Jason Smathers on June 22, 2010

Police in Dearborn enforced a prohibition on free speech during the 2010 Arab International Festival which took place June 18th-20th. The Acts 17 Apologetics group was arrested on Friday June 18th while discussing Christianity with Muslims inside the festival. On Sunday, they were again detained for distributing the Gospel of John outside the festival.

Last week, Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed that loss of a First Amendment right, “for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury” according to court documents obtained by Witnesses Unto Me.
The court specifically upheld another Christian’s right to distribute literature outside of this same festival. The injunction states “Saieg shall be permitted to distribute his religious literature in the streets contained within the area referred to as the ‘outer perimeter’ or ‘buffer zone.'”
The injunction is specific to Pastor George Saieg, who has sued for relief from the leafleting policy enforced at the Arab International Festival in Dearborn. However, the emergency injunction gives an impression that the court will uphold free speech on a wider scale. That did not stop the Dearborn Police this year.
On Sunday, The Acts 17 Apologetics group was detained after distributing The Gospel of John outside of the festival. David Wood has provided video of this incident.

David Wood also provides video footage of the first incident. However, Dearborn Police confiscated the Acts 17 video cameras so we will have to wait to see the events leading to their arrest on Friday.

At the time of publishing, The City of Dearborn has not responded to questions or records requests. The city is legally obligated to respond by the end of the week, but may request an additional ten days to provide the records.

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