Appeal set in festival disturbance trial

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN – An appeal date has been set in the trial of one of five people arrested at the 2009 at the Arab International Festival.

Negeen Mayel, an 18-year-old college student from Texas, was charged with failing to obey a police officer after allegedly causing a disturbance at the festival while distributing literature. A hearing to appeal that charge is set for April 1 at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit.

Mayel is one of five plaintiffs named in a civil rights lawsuit against the city and various city officials, including 17 police officers, Mayor John O’Reilly Jr., Police Chief Ronald Haddad and two executives of the Arab American Chamber of Commerce, claiming the city’s policies favor Arab-Americans.

The lawsuit was filed Feb. 22 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit. It claims that the plaintiffs, who are members of a Christian apologetics group, were harassed and mistreated by police during two separate festivals in 2009 and 2010.

After the 2009 incident, the five returned to the festival in June 2010 in order to see if the city was following through on its promise to be safer for Christian missionaries. They then were arrested and jailed.

A statement released Feb. 22 by the Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center, which is representing the defendants, said that during the June 2010 incident, members of the group were passing out religious material when police arrested them.

The four other plaintiffs were acquitted in 19th District Court on charges of creating a disturbance.

(Daniel Heraty can be reached at