Freedom of Speech, Religion and French Fries

Staff Photo by Marc Masferrer

When I reported that a controversial pastor would be moving into my coverage area, I thought that would be mainly quiet after he settled.

Rev. Terry Jones earned international notoriety for burning the Quran along with his views about Islam. He lived in a rural town in Polk County, Fla., and then a Central Florida news outlet mentioned in passing he would be moving to Manatee County.

[Forgive the difference in spelling of Koran and Quran in the clips. The editors and copy desk were battling over style preferences.]

I checked property records and found that yes, he is in the community.

Two years later, my business editor received a call from a reader saying Jones had opened a place in the DeSoto Square mall food court.

It was the most bizarre news tip I ever received. I checked it out and there he was.

When local outlets cover a story I broke first, I typically get miffed. But it was quite an honor to see Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Anne Hull write her version for The Washington Post. It’s the tone that I would have wanted to write but knew it wasn’t write for a local audience. Her style is perfect for a national view.

After my story ran, I actually received more complaints about one of his other businesses I didn’t know about—furniture moving.

JANUARY 9, 2015

Florida pastor on al-Qaida hit list opens french fry stand at Bradenton’s DeSoto Square mall

Florida pastor Terry Jones, known for organizing Quran burnings, now running french fry stand at DeSoto Square mall called Fry Guys. He is on the same al-Qaida hit list as murdered French magazine editor Stephane Charbonnier.

JANUARY 10, 2015

DeSoto Square customers surprised by fry stand operated by Quran-burning pastor

JANUARY 16, 2015

Controversial pastor Terry Jones furniture moving company TSC garnering complaints

Customers not receiving deliveries, answers from moving company operated by the Rev. Terry Jones, who has been in the news recently for running a fry stand in the DeSoto Square mall while maintaining his hate group.

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