JENISON, Mich. (WOOD) — A group is organizing a peaceful demonstration against a Thursday event at the Jenison Center of the Arts scheduled by the owner of Dieseltec.
Brian Klawiter, the owner of Dieseltec in Grandville, created controversy when he posted to the company’s Facebook page in April saying he would not hesitate to “refuse service to an openly gay person or persons.”
Klawiter’s Thursday event is called “West Michigan God & Country.”
“This is an event to discuss a lot of issues going on in our nation and our community today. We’re going to talk about how the constitution is applied today. We’re going to talk about the Holy Bible,” Klawiter described in a previous interview with 24 Hour News 8.
Not everyone is happy about the event. A group called Jenison4Love has organized what it is calling a peaceful protest to take place simultaneously with the Dieseltec event.
“The guests that he is bringing in have a very severe outlook anyone outside of their beliefs,” Juliea Page, who organized the protest, said. “We just want to make sure there are people here that are not associated with that. We wanted to send a clear message to this community that not everyone agrees with this man.”
“I’m not entirely sure that they know what they are protesting. Bradlee Dean, one of the speakers, has done over 400 high school assembles across the nation. He tries to reach out to the youth of America from a biblical and conservative and liberty standpoint,” Klawiter said Tuesday.
The other speaker is Coach Dave Daubenmire, who fought the ACLU when it sued the Ohio school district he coached for because it allowed him to pray and pass out scriptures to football players before games
He lost the fight.
“These are both a couple of gentlemen that are really interested in youth and conservative and liberty in America,” Klawiter said.
Paige said she feels that over the past decade, Jenison has bucked the stereotype of being closed-minded and is worried this event could set the area back.
“What we’re learning is that it really doesn’t matter if you are Christian, gay, straight, if you’re not Christian, none of that matters because ultimately we’re all neighbors,” Paige said
“This is about morals, and it’s about where we are drawing a line in the sand as Americans to say this is and this is what not is acceptable as behavior type in the public eye,” Klawiter said. “I’ve got children that I want limited exposure of what some people have views as acceptable behaviors, so that’s one of many issues we will be talking about.”
The event has also caused some controversy because many parents have said they don’t want the event held in a school building. But the district said it has to let Dieseltec use the space.
“The First Amendment and Board Policy prevent the District from restricting this group or other community groups from using our facility based on the content of the views to be expressed. In short, we cannot by law suppress their free speech. However, the district does not endorse the views of Dieseltec or any other community group that rents our facility,” the district previously said in a letter to parents.
Paige said the protest scheduled outside the Jenison Center for the Arts will be peaceful.
“Our tone is all about love,” she said. “All we want to do is come here and make sure that people looking at this will see a presence of a community that has come together in the name of total of diversity, total acceptance and complete love. We really want to send that frequency of complete acceptance, even for them, we understand and respect their right for free speech.”
Paige says those who wish to protest should show up to the Jenison Center for the Arts, located at 8375 20th Ave. in Jenison, between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The Dieseltec event is free and open to all and begins at 6 p.m.