Lansing man who burned Quran was drunk, angry
by Matthew Miller
The wife of the man who burned a Quran on the night before Sept. 11 and left it on the doorstep of the Islamic Center of East Lansing doesn't allow him to get drunk in the house.
That's why he was getting drunk on his mountain bike that night. He left his house on the east side of Lansing about an hour before sundown, stopping off at a Speedway gas station to buy a 24-ounce can of Icehouse.
He was 46 years old, making his living "scratch and scrape" doing odd jobs. And that day in particular, he was "pretty haired up," he would later tell police, "because it was the anniversary of 9/11 and I'm still, I'm still pissed off."
He'd already decided what he was going to do. If the Florida pastor Terry Jones wasn't going to burn a Quran, he would. He carried a copy with him that night in a plastic grocery bag.
He wanted to make a statement "of defiance, a statement of disrespect," he told the police. "I want them to know that we're not just gonna roll over for this (expletive)."
But a drunken act of provocation - directed, in this instance, against a community that had publicly denounced the 9/11 attacks and any number of terrorist acts before and since - doesn't speak so clearly.
The incident made its way into the national news as just another piece of flotsam on a rising tide of Islamophobia, but it provoked outrage in East Lansing, not least because it ran against the city's image of itself as a diverse community comfortable in its diversity.
The city put up a $10,000 reward.
The man responsible turned himself in. And then, nothing. He wasn't charged with a hate crime. He wasn't charged with littering.
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