Who Pays Their Legal Expenses ?

On June 23rd I posted an article (rightwinggranny.com) about the arrest in Dearborn, Michigan, of four people charged with disorderly conduct because they were handing out copies of the Gospel of John outside an Arab cultural festival.  They were not inside the festival, nor were they causing a disturbance.  There is a video of the incident at Power Line.

John Hinderaker at Power Line posted an article yesterday to update the story.  According to the article:

“Much to the barely concealed chagrin of the Detroit Free Press, the Christian evangelists who were arrested for distributing St. John’s gospel on a public street outside an Arab festival in Dearborn, Michigan, a few months back have been found not guilty of breaching the peace. One of the four defendants was apparently found guilty of the less serious offense of failing to obey a police officer’s order.”

Mr. Hinderaker points out:

“The policeman’s order violated the First Amendment, so that conviction should be subject to reversal. It is good that a Michigan jury didn’t buy this plainly unconstitutional prosecution, but the story, taken as a whole, is sobering. These evangelists incurred expenses that must have been well into five figures, at a bare minimum, and on top of that had a legitimate fear of criminal conviction–all for engaging in activity that falls within the heart of the First Amendment’s protection.”  

The Detroit Free Press had a different take on the situation:

“”It’s really about a hatred of Muslims,” [Dearborn Mayor Jack] 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.””

I’m not a lawyer, but I thought the First Amendment protected the rights of all religions–not just Islam.  The fact that these four people were even charged with anything is chilling.  Why didn’t the police respect their rights?