Every once in awhile a Sioux Falls City Councilor surprises me. Bob Litz did this yesterday when he asked Mike Cooper from the Planning department this question (Jan 20th info meeting), in reference to the zoning of the NEW Islamic Center,
“Why is there a disparency between what the fire code requires in occupancy and what the zoning commission requires?”
Cooper responded, “It’s very complex.” And he added that the fire department has different standards. Uh, well duh, Mike, that’s why Bob asked the question. Shouldn’t the fire department and Zoning commission be on the same page?
But this isn’t about occupancy, it’s about bigotry.
Cory from Madville writes a great post about the veiled bigotry that I have been concerned about for awhile towards the new Islamic Center.
It all started a few weeks back at a SF city council informational meeting (Jan 5th) when a ‘concerned citizen’ (Ignorant/Hypocritical Protestant) took pictures and shot video of African-American immigrant Muslims protesting Israel’s attack on Gaza across the street in a public park from the other Islamic center on 6th street. Councilor Staggers asked the gentleman what his feelings were on the First Amendment, and the guy seem to be confused about it’s meaning and started talking about city ordinances, etc. Staggers reminded the citizen that the U.S. Constitution trumps all municipal and state laws and as long as their protesting was peaceful he couldn’t do anything about it.
Later at the City Council meeting I thanked Staggers for reminding the citizen about the First Amendment and I also said publicly if any of these protesters feel threatened or intimidated by the local authorities that need to contact the National Coalition Against Censorship or the ACLU for legal advice.
This is flat out bigotry because of their faith, that’s it, and it is pretty obvious. I will say the city and council have been doing their best to handle the zoning issue as smoothly as possible, it’s the citizens in this neighborhood that are causing problems and continue to hassle the city about restricting them, even though most (Christian) worship facilities in Sioux Falls are in residential areas.
I don’t belong to any religion, so I don’t care if people are dancing naked around old sprint car tires in their churches, just as long as they follow zoning rules they have the right to do whatever they want to in their church, the First Amendment guarantees it.
I suggest the Islamic Center contacts the ACLU and get some legal advice before this thing blows up into something bigger.