Erin Mersino is Trial Counsel with the Thomas More Law Center, and is the attorney handling a case filed in the United States District Court yesterday, April 30th in the Western District of Michigan.
In January 2012, a free-speech event was taking place at a high school in
Allegan, Michigan, sponsored by Michigan State Representative David Agema and several local officials, and a conservative organization, ACT! for America. ACT! for America is a non-partisan, non-sectarian organization founded by Brigitte Gabriel, whose mission is to provide a voice for Americans concerned about national security, terrorism, and the threat of radical Islam. The purpose of the event was to promote the U.S. Constitution and to offer laws ensuring that it is not superseded by foreign laws, such as the Islamic Sharia Law.
But the meeting was interrupted when the Allegan Police Department ordered the event shut-down. The reason? School officials notified police that they had received a letter complaining about the event from Dawud Walid, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI).
At first the Allegan police chief indicated he shut down the event because of threats to one of the speakers, Kamal Saleem. Later the chief admitted to a reporter that there was no specific threat to the event and no real danger at all. Kamal Saleem was deemed to be controversial because he was a former Muslim who has converted to Christianity, and was speaking about the dangers of Sharia Law.
The civil rights lawsuit filed by the Thomas More Law Center seeks the court to rule that in fact the Constitutional Right of Free Speech was violated, and contract obligations were broken, to issue an injunction against any repetition of this kind of action, and to assess appropriate compensation for damages.
Meanwhile, organizers fully intend reschedule the meeting at a later time once this issue is settled.
Thomas More Law Center
Act! For America
To contact officials in Allegan, Michigan with your views about the decision to stop this meeting at the Allegan High School:
Mayor Tom Clark: 269-673-5511
Police Chief Rick Hoyer: 269-673-2115
Allegan Public School District—to reach Superintendent Kevin Harness or School Board President, Mark Davidhizar: 269-673-5431