8:14 p.m. PST November 13, 2015
More than 20 people gathered Friday outside the Polk County Courthouse to speak their beliefs concerning Dallas city councilor Micky Garus and recent statements he made concerning Islam and transgender rights.
The rally was organized by the Rural Organizing Project, a group that helps people organize rallies and peaceful demonstrations in the Dallas area. Those representing ROP attended the event on Friday to call for the resignation of Garus.
Some supported Garus but felt he should apologize for his statements. Others appeared alarmed by Garus’ remarks but did not call for him to resign. Still others thought there should be significant consequences for his statements.
Garus, 35, characterized the Muslim faith in a Facebook post last week as “pure evil,” focusing primarily on Sharia law.
Another Garus posting, last Thursday, came in response to a report that an Illinois school district had violated federal law by forbidding a transgender student from using the girls’ locker room.
“If this ever happens in a school that my kids attend, I’ll be first in line to issue a ass whooping, both to the transgender, and the administration whom failed to protect our children,” Garus wrote, “Wake up America!”
As young representatives of ROP spoke to local media on Friday, some of those who showed up to support Garus began to speak up in response.
“You are a disgrace to the veterans who fought for your freedoms,” one said. Others spoke back to these remarks and stood up for the ROP speakers.
Some Garus supporters said he may have made a mistake in his wording, but that he is a great representative otherwise.
Dallas resident Paul Cole said he was there to support “my friend,” and said Garus has been “unfairly maligned” and that people attacking him “don’t know the man.”
“He chose a poor way to say what he wanted to say,” Cole said. “But he made a mistake. We all make mistakes.”
Those opposing Garus said they recognize his freedom of speech and freedom to hold the opinions he expressed, but they do not feel he should have expressed them from his platform as an elected official.
Carol Christ has lived in Dallas since 1979. She and others said they worried his statements will make some people feel unwelcome in Dallas and that it will not properly represent the city.
“Mr. Garus is speaking words of hate, maybe out of fear,” she said. “He is 100 percent entitled to his views in private, where his words would only be heard by his family and friends. But when he speaks publicly, it’s a different voice.”
Christ and others said that while he prefaced his original statement with the fact that he was only speaking on behalf of himself, he still chose to post it on his professional Facebook page.
Both those in support of the councilman and those in opposition plan to demonstrate Monday night before the next council meeting.
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Micky Garus’ full statement:
“These are my personal opinions and do not represent the City of Dallas its policies or the personal opinions of my fellow councilors. I swore an oath to uphold our constitution and in that oath I seek to uphold our freedom and liberty guaranteed in the document. Show me a predominantly Muslim country that enjoys the same type of individual and universal human rights and freedoms, especially in regard to gender and sexual orientation, similar to the United States? Can we logically say that an increase of political rule from a religion that historically oppresses individual rights and other religions is a good thing, based on the history of that religion and the associated intolerance that it has displayed? There are numerous historic examples of the way Islam treats those whom are not believers. There are also numerous current examples of Islamic behavior that fill the headlines every day! Do we want the United States to have more freedoms or fewer freedoms? Do we want the United States to exist in the same type of theocracy as Iran or Saudi Arabia? I do not fear the Muslim that lives down the street, I agree the majority of Muslims see freedom of religion as a precious value, but historically when Muslims gain positions of power in government, the acceptance of traditions and practices such as Sharia Law become the norm. That is a diminution of individual rights, especially for women. You only need to look as far as Germany to see examples of women being mistreated by the recent predominantly male Muslim immigrants. A recent poll found 51% of Muslims living in the US would prefer being governed by Sharia Law, 60% of Muslim Americans under 30 told Pew research they are more loyal to Islam than America. The city of Irving Texas recently struck down an Islamic tribunal. Mayor Beth VanDuyne was attacked as islamophobic for opposing a Sharia court in her city. Do we want religious courts in America or do we want to live under the rule of law as outlined by our founding documents?”
“(We were) shocked and saddened by Councilor Micky Garus’ comments that paint our Muslim and transgender neighbors as anything other than folks trying to live their lives and contribute to the community the best they can. (We) have learned in the last few days that there are many other Dallas residents who feel the same way. We question his quality of judgement and ability to act in the best interests of the people of Dallas given his beliefs pertaining to the Muslim community and transgender people. We are here to stand with our neighbors in calling for community leadership that upholds our values and respects the basic dignity of everyone who calls Dallas home. We must hold our public leaders to higher standards. What he writes and what he says becomes more than an opinion. He serves as a role model for people and his words have the ability to inspire the way people act. This is about much more than free speech. When our community is already struggling to stay connected, this is a moment for community leaders to demonstrate that we can live together in a vibrant and diverse community, even if we disagree.”