Terry Jones’ Quran Burning Will Require Permit from Polk County

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Terry Jones’ Quran Burning Will Require Permit from Polk County

Terry Jones, Pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Bradenton.

ERNST PETERS | THE LEDGER

By 
THE LEDGER
Published: Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 29, 2013 at 11:44 p.m.
MULBERRY | Controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones must get a county permit to use Loyce E. Harpe Park near Mulberry for his Sept. 11 protest burning of 2,998 Qurans, Polk County officials said Thursday.
Jones said he’ll apply for a facility use agreement, but he’s not expecting the county to approve it.
That won’t deter him from moving ahead with his plans, he said.
“Quite honestly, we all know what this application means,” Jones said Thursday. “It’s a way for them not to approve it. We’ll fill out the application, but we’re also going to proceed with our event.”
Jones said he has had more than 400 death threats against him and knows he has a bounty on his head for his protests against Islam, but it hasn’t stopped him before and won’t stop him now.
“They can’t think that I will back down because of a piece of paperthat some city or county may not give me,” he said. “We are convinced of what we are doing. We are convinced of sounding the alarm and raising awareness about Islam.”
Mianne Nelson, spokeswoman for the Polk County Commission, said facility use agreements aren’t required for every event, but the scope of this one mandates the pere_SDHpmit.
“If you have an organized group and we are put on notice of an upcoming event, that organization will be required to submit an application,” she said.
The scope of the event, which Jones anticipates will attract from 20 to 50 people, creates a safety issue for the county, Nelson said.
“It raises the level of liability for the county,” she said. “It puts the county at risk for something going wrong or somebody being hurt.”
Nelson said the application can take up to two weeks to process, and the event is 12 days away.
She also said fires are prohibited in Harpe Park because there are no fire provisions there, including picnic grills or fire pits. Jones faces a $250 penalty if he proceeds with an unauthorized fire in the park, according to the county’s parks ordinance.
Jones has said he has an enclosed facility for burning the Qurans. Nelson said he would need to list that on his application, and using it would be subject to approval by county administrators.
Jones, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center, has staged several protests against Islam since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. This time, he plans to burn a Quran, the Muslim holy book, for each American life lost in that attack.
Staging the event in Mulberry wasn’t always the plan.
When Jones sold his church and property in Gainesville earlier this summer, Mulberry resident Bill McKinney offered his home for the Sept. 11 burning of the Qurans. But on Tuesday, McKinney withdrew his offer, saying heavy rains have left his property flooded.
That’s when Jones decided to move his event to the 535-acre Loyce E. Harpe Park, which includes sports fields and a dog park.
Jones said he could stage the event on land his church recently purchased east of Bradenton, but supporters are expecting the burning to take place in Mulberry.
“We don’t want to move it to another city at this point,” he said. “I’m not going to be intimidated.”
[ Suzie Schottelkotte can be reached atsuzie.schottelkotte@theledger.com or 863-533- 9070. ]
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