Last Modified: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 at 9:40 p.m.
MULBERRY | Terry Jones is searching for a new place in Mulberry to burn 2,998 Qurans on Sept. 11 because his first site is under water.
Bill McKinney, the Mulberry resident who offered his home for the protest burning, said Tuesday the event won't take place in his yard because it's flooded.
Jones, a Florida pastor who's organizing the protest, said he remains committed to staging the event near Mulberry and is looking for another site.
"I'm not worried," he said Tuesday. "Something will come along."
Tuesday afternoon, Jones, and a friend and his daughter drove around Mulberry looking for possible sites, including the Carter Road Sports Complex on South Carter Road. He hasn't found one yet.
McKinney said he's disappointed he had to cancel two weeks before the protest, but he doesn't expect his 1-acre yard to dry out before then.
"This is an old cow pasture," he said, "and with all the rain, I've been under water for about a month. If it wasn't for my property being under water, this (event) would happen. I haven't changed my mind about that."
McKinney, 58, said the water is up to his 4-year-old grandson's knees.
McKinney, who lives off Shepherd Road, said he told Jones Tuesday he would have to find another venue. He said no one has pressured him into pulling out of the protest.
Despite plans by groups to challenge his protest, Jones said he won't be intimidated into leaving the Mulberry area.
"If we have to, we will fill up the back of a pickup truck with (Qurans) and set them on fire in front of City Hall," he said. "We are going to do what we're going to do. We will stay within the confines of the law, but we will push it as far as we can."
Jones said he plans to burn 2,998 Qurans in memory of each American lost in the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. He staged a similar event in March 2011, burning a single Quran and sparking deadly violence in Afghanistan.
Jones said he didn't set out to stage this latest protest in Mulberry. He was searching for a location earlier this summer after selling the Dove World Outreach Center, his church in Gainesville, when McKinney stepped forward, saying he shares Jones' ideology.
"I really wanted to do this," McKinney said Tuesday. "We have got to stop the Islamification of America. They said they were going to take over America and we have to take them at their word."
McKinney, who said he's a faithful man but practices no specific religion, said he doesn't consider Islam a religion, but rather a geo-political system.
"If it's a religion, that gives it standing and protection under our Constitution," he said.
He said he'd been telling Jones for the last month that his yard might be too soggy for the event.
The call from McKinney on Tuesday sent Jones to Mulberry in search of a new location. He said his church has purchased land near Bradenton for a new worship center, and he could stage the Sept. 11 protest there, if need be.
"But we are determined to go ahead and keep it here," he said during his visit to Mulberry. "People are expecting it to be here."
Jones said he's anticipating about 20 to 50 participants.
Since Jones announced his plans in July, others have scheduled Sept. 11 events in Mulberry to counter the protest.
Suzanne Carter-Moore, who grew up in Mulberry, initiated a Facebook page entitled "Not In Mulberry Terry Jones," and the Dallas-based World Muslim Congress is bringing its annual Unity Day ceremony to Mulberry.
Mike Ghouse, resident of the World Muslim Congress, finalized plans Monday for the celebration designed to counter the burning of the Muslin holy books with peaceful prayer.
Ghouse said the ceremony celebrates the unity among faiths and ways in which communities promote that unity.
"We want (the protestors) to know that violence is a behavior that will not be tolerated," he said.
The Muslim group also is sponsoring a blood drive in conjunction with the ceremony.