Quran Burning Pastor Gets Bill For Police Security

This is something I’d like to see local jurisdictions do more often:

Orlando, Florida (CNN) — The city of Gainesville, Florida, plans to send a bill estimated at more than $180,000 to Pastor Terry Jones for security costs surrounding his controversial threat to burn Qurans on the anniversary of the September, 11, 2001, attacks, a police spokeswoman said Friday.

Police agencies spent more than a month working on security plans to ensure the community surrounding Jones’ Dove World Outreach Center — the planned site of the burning — was safe, according to Gainesville police spokeswoman Cpl. Tscharna Senn.

Jones also told authorities he received numerous death threats because of the planned protest, which he called off amid increasing pressure from world leaders.

The Gainesville Police Department said it spent more than $100,000 while the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spent an estimated $80,000 during the weekend of the planned demonstration.

“We have 286 sworn officers and almost everyone was working either at the Dove Center or at other soft targets,” Senn said. “Unless you were sick or injured you were working” the day the burning was to take place.

Officers secured malls in the region, the University of Florida’s football stadium and areas around the church in the days leading up to the planned event.

Jones said Friday that the church was “not aware that we would be billed for security.”

“If we had known this in advance, then we would have refused to have security,” he said.

Yea, sure you would have.

FILED UNDER: Islam, Quick Takes, Religion, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. davod says:

    This is something I’d like to see local jurisdictions do more often”

    Of course you would Dougie.

  2. Steve Plunk says:

    Doug, That’s just a stupid thing to say.  Does freedom of speech now require deep pockets?  This minister (no matter how much of a kook) didn’t ask for the police presence.  The city officials themselves don’t even know if they have legal grounds to bill him.
    Your dislike of what was going on and who was doing it has blinded you to the purpose of the 1st amendment.  Please rethink your support of this idea.

  3. JKB says:

    Yes, if you say or do something some murderous people don’t like we’ll charge you money for the privilege.  Well, over at Volkh, they pointed out how this “charge” is completely unconstitutional.  If you can’t charge more for permits based on speech content, you can hardly send a bill for preparations the police made based on their subjective assessment of speech content.
    It’s nice to see Doug that you and Justice Breyer believe in the rioters’s veto.  So the next time someone burns a flag or has an anti-war protest or spits on a soldier, people who don’t like that need to blow something up.  Only he who is prepared to do violence truly has free speech.  I think that is a bit off from what the Founders were thinking when they put in the First Amendment.  But kudos on those who insisted on the Bill of Rights over those who felt the rights went without saying and no one would try argue they should be infringed.

  4. sam says:

    Uh, it’s probably unconsitutional if Eugene is correct:

    [C]harging people money for extra policing, because of a fear that thugs would react violently to their speech, is unconstitutional, see Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement (1992). In Forsyth, the Court held unconstitutional an ordinance under which the fee for parade permits was based partly on the likely cost of police protection, which in turn reflected the possibility of violent reaction to the speech. The Court held this even though the fee in that case was capped at $1,000; and the Court’s reasoning strikes me as applying just as much to after-the-fact demands for reimbursement of policing costs…http://volokh.com/2010/09/17/planning-to-burn-a-koran-200000-bill-from-the-government-for-policing-costs/

  5. And my point is that when people stage publicity stunts like this that lead to public resources being used to “protect” them, they ought to be held responsible.

    See I don’t think Pastor Jones ever really intended to burn Qurans.

  6. sam says:

    “See I don’t think Pastor Jones ever really intended to burn Qurans.”
    That’s interesting. But absent a flat-out admission by the rev that the whole thing was a stunt, that would be hard to prove. And prove it you’d have to, to justify the imposition of the fee. right? And for the record, and sadly, I think the guy was going to burn the books.

  7. Just my impression from the way this whole thing went down, to be honest.

  8. Steve Plunk says:

    Aren’t political protests publicity stunts?  Threatening to burn them accomplished just as much as actually burning them.  It exposed a double standard and the fragility of peacefulness within the ‘religion of peace’.
    If you want to see abuse of civil rights just give locals the power to charge for them.

  9. Do you think the Arkansas 9 should have been billed for the national guard troops that were required to make their integration possible?  I think the Florida pastor is a scumsucking bigot, mind you, but unless they specifically requested the additional police, billing them for exercising their right just punishes them for being unpopular and rewards those who threaten violence to stifle political speech.