The mayor claims that we were indeed blocking the tent entrance and causing traffic problems. Please watch the following two videos to see people freely entering and exiting the tent. As for a crowd behind me, you can clearly see people walking behind me.
Interestingly, the mayor seems to think that the police officers who told us we didn't need to move simply weren't familiar with the law. Yet the mayor constantly insists that we knew we were breaking the law. Really? Two people from out of state were supposed to know the law better than police officers who told us we didn't need to move? Here's the footage of police telling us that we were fine right where we were:
The mayor also seems to understand that we weren't pretending to be arrested, as Nabeel pointed out here:
There is, of course, a far more massive problem with the mayor's version of events. He's claiming that police arrested us for blocking traffic and gathering a crowd. But Negeen was arrested well before us. Since we hadn't yet caused any of the problems we were supposedly arrested for, why were police already coming after us? This strongly supports our version of events--that security and police were targeting us, and that they're now grasping at straws in order to justify their violations of our rights.
Due to time constraints on the show, several questions remain unanswered. Here are a few questions I would like the mayor to answer.
(1) The mayor continues to refer to "free speech zones." But as Nabeel pointed out, in the very cases the mayor appeals to, the courts ruled that people are free to walk around holding discussions (as we were doing). Does the mayor have a court case where a court ruled that people are not allowed to hold a dialogue in public?
(2) The mayor acknowledges that security last year was poorly trained, and that additional training was needed for this year. But the point of our video last year was that security was harassing Christians and attacking us for asking a question at a booth. If the mayor admits that they behaved poorly due to insufficient training, why demonize us for making this public? The fact is that the additional training was required specifically because we drew attention to injustice. Shouldn't the mayor be thanking us for making the festival a better, safer place?
(3) The mayor says that the sidewalk and street are no longer public sites during the Arab Festival. Is a site no longer a public site, even if it's a public event on public property?
(4) If the mayor really thinks that people can't have an open, honest discussion on camera, why does he keep going on television and radio programs?
(5) Why does the mayor think that Muslims are incapable of having a discussion when cameras are involved? Why do Dearborn leaders think that having a public discussion with Muslims is equivalent to inciting a riot? It seems that the mayor and the police department have a lower view of Muslims than we do. We've had open dialogues and debates with Muslims in numerous places, and we've never had a problem. We believe that Muslims are quite capable of public dialogue, even on camera. But as soon as we get to Dearborn, we find police intervening to prevent a riot as soon as dialogue starts. Do they believe that Muslims, by nature, will respond violently when someone answers their questions? Isn't this an insult to Muslims?
(6) If the problem is that we were supposedly blocking a tent entrance, why not arrest the Muslims who approached us? (We don't advocate arresting people for having discussions, but given the mayor's comments about the presence of a crowd violating festival rules, this question obviously arises.) We were on our way out of the festival so that Nabeel could eat his falafel. If people form a crowd around us, and a crowd is illegal, shouldn't the crowd have been arrested, rather than the people who were peacefully responding to questions and recording the dialogue? Or was there a fear that arresting these Muslims (who, according to Dearborn leaders, are too violent for dialogue and prone to riot) would lead to a riot, and that the peaceful Christians should instead be targeted (to the cheers of Muslims)?
(7) If it's illegal to draw a crowd, and celebrities draw crowds, is it illegal for celebrities to attend the Dearborn Arab Festival? Would Rima Fakih be arrested if she showed up? Would she be stripped down to a tank-top and tossed in a jail cell, the way Negeen was?
(8) The mayor says that the letter he wrote was nothing more than his personal opinion. Does the mayor believe that it is permissible for the leader of a city to favor one side and spread bias against the other when a court case is pending? Is it even possible to get an unbiased jury in Dearborn now?
(9) In his final remarks, the mayor says that there were no problems until Acts 17 showed up. But we know that rights were routinely being violated last year. Christians were being harassed. Double standards have been in place for years. We're just the ones who catch these things on tape and expose what's going on in Dearborn. Does the mayor think that harassing Christians isn't a problem, and that it only becomes a problem when the harassment is exposed by Acts 17 and the city starts receiving complaints?
Since the mayor is so quick to give his thoughts about our intentions and motives, let me give you my outline of what I think led to our arrests.
(1) The city of Dearborn was terribly embarrassed by the negative publicity from last year's Arab Festival.
(2) Police were looking for an excuse to arrest us, so that they could portray us in a negative light.
(3) After receiving some bogus complaints from people who didn't want us dialoguing with Muslims, police saw their opportunity and decided to move in.
(4) They went after Negeen first, in order to keep her from filming our arrests.
(5) Since police can only charge someone with a misdemeanor if they witness the person breaking the law, police stood close to us and looked for a reason to arrest us.
(6) We weren't doing anything wrong, and they had no reason to arrest us.
(7) Police couldn't let us leave the festival, because they had already arrested Negeen. Unless they could justify the arrest by claiming that Negeen was part of a group that was causing problems, police were in trouble for violating her rights.
(8) Knowing that they had to justify Negeen's arrest, police were forced to arrest us, even though we hadn't done anything wrong.
(9) Since they had no evidence against us, police illegally seized our cameras, hoping that they would find some evidence against us in the footage.
(10) After reviewing the footage, they realized that we did absolutely nothing against festival rules or city, state, or federal laws.
(11) In order to defend the arrests, police and the mayor were forced to invent all kinds of stories about us screaming into the crowd, blocking a tent entrance, inciting a riot, etc.
(12) Although video evidence conclusively disproves these stories, the mayor and police department now have to defend them, for the only alternative is to acknowledge repeated violations of our Constitutional rights, targeting Christians in order to please Muslims, and lying in police reports and television interviews.
After watching the videos and listening to the interview, which version of events seems more plausible?