Rev. Terry Jones Rally Leads to UC Irvine Closures Amid Security Concerns

School nixes rally; pastor pursues legal action

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    Nov. 16, 2010: Controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones stands at a small protest at the site of the Park 51 proposed mosque and community center in New York City.

    A portion of UC Irvine was shut down Thursday for security reasons amid an appearance from Rev. Terry Jones, the Florida pastor who drew nationwide criticism in 2010 for threatening to burn a copy of the Quran.

    Jones was scheduled to make an appearance on campus for a rally beginning at 11:30 a.m.

    "There are death threats that the campus has received," Jones said. "They have shut down the so-called flagpole area."

    The university could not confirm any direct threats, although Tom Vasich of the school's communication department said there was some sort of security issue.

    "Intelligence received by UCI Police indicated suspicious activity that raised concerns about the safety of the event," school officials wrote in a statement.

    "As a precaution, the area has been closed and no event will take place in this area. Other campus activities will continue as normal. Further information will be forthcoming as it becomes available," according to UCI.

    Anteater Plaza, Ring Road, Pereira Drive and the flagpole area were closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, according to the school. University officials sent a text alert to students at 10:33 a.m. announcing the closures.

    Jones said his team was served with papers by university police.

    "If we come back on the campus today to do our rally, we will be immediately arrested," he told NBC LA via phone.

    Although Jones said he had no intention to cancel the event, by mid-afternoon, it was clear there would be no rally.

    "The scheduled Stand Up America Now Rally at UC Irvine was not permitted to take place today," according to a statement from Jones' camp.

    "…Law abiding United States Citizens were prevented from speaking there peacefully. Dr. Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp will pursue legal action against the university, a publically funded, so-called 'free-speech' campus."

    The pastor, who is running for president, is no stranger to security concerns. He described Thursday's incident as "not unusual."

    Since his public effort to burn a copy of the Quran last year, he's received hundreds of death threats. When on the road, his team is often escorted by law enforcement, and he constantly changes hotel rooms.

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