Bud Kennedy

Irving could do more about armed marches at mosque

A website promoted a white supremacist rally in Irving.
A website promoted a white supremacist rally in Irving. WFAA-TV

If you live or work in Irving, here’s your latest “Know Your Protesters” update:

▪ The little bunch of Klan white-supremacist bubbas from East Texas say they can’t make it to picket the mosque Saturday after all. Maybe next spring.

(Does it take that long to wash the sheets?)

▪ But the other little bunch of armed open-carry militia bubbas from Garland still might be back after they make a return appearance next week at a Richardson mosque.

(Their name is B.A.I.R. I think it stands for Bubbas Against Irving Religion.)

Both groups say they’re not done marching outside the Islamic Center of Irving, which leaves open the possibility of a big publicity-grabbing standoff some day, crosses and Confederate flags on one side and camo gear and rifles on the other.

Which also means Irving officials aren’t done.

Maybe the city needs a tougher special-events ordinance.

If you were one of the viewers watching the marches and asking, “Why doesn’t Irving do something about that?” — the answer is that if the marches grow, Irving can.

In Dallas, an event involving more than 75 people that occupies a street or sidewalk requires an application 45 days in advance, although free-speech protests are exempted.

Irving’s special-event regulations may need refreshing. The original 1987 ordinance covered only events blocking a street, not a sidewalk, and police officials said Tuesday they hadn’t even considered whether a staged Klan rally or some future stunt might need a city special-event permit.

Police watched closely on Nov. 21 as about a dozen protesters from B.A.I.R. — the “Bureau of Islamic-American Relations” — filed legally along the sidewalk.

They carried rifles, a “Stop the Islamization” sign and a Ted Cruz campaign sign.

They’re going back to picket the Richardson mosque Dec. 12, but all the publicity attracted the Texas Rebel Knights KKK.

(On that website: “National and State Office Quinlan, Texas. Regional Office Shepherd, Texas — Imperial Wizard Killer.”).

The Knights are not so bright.

Under a link to “Up Coming Ralley,” the Knights first announced, “Will Be Protesting Mosque,” then canceled.

A social media page explains helpfully:

We believe in God Word

We stand by the Holly Bible

Texas A&M University law school professor Meg Penrose said cities have only limited power to regulate political speech, but can prevent car or pedestrian traffic problems, noise or nuisances.

“The rules have to be neutral,” she said, but the Supreme Court has recognized “valid restrictions on event size, time or place. … It’s not uncommon to say a protest has to be 150 feet away from a funeral. It would be interesting — do [cities] have the right to do that for a place of worship?”

In the meantime, mosque leaders could apply for a city events permit to protect nearby sidewalks and streets during worship.

Call it the First Amendment Freedom Festival.

Bud Kennedy: 817-390-7538, bud@star-telegram.com, @BudKennedy. His column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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