by Leo Hohmann
Brenda Arthur received an unexpected visit on March 8 that, one week later, leaves her feeling more than a little uneasy.
At her door that day was an officer with the West Virginia State Police. He wanted to know about her involvement in a Freedom of Information request regarding a local mosque.
Arthur, who will turn 67 this summer, is leader of the West Virginia chapter of ACT For America, whose mission is to educate Americans about the advancement of Islamic principles in Western societies.
As a Jewish American, she was concerned about a major expansion of the Islamic Association of West Virginia in her hometown of South Charleston. This mosque has hosted an openly anti-Semitic preacher in the past, and so she went to city hall in late January to have a look at its construction permits and site plans, something that is within the right of every American citizen under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and state open-records laws.
She had no idea that this perfectly legal activity, performed every day by citizen watchdogs across the U.S., would prompt a visit from the state police.
Arthur was not available to answer the door when Sgt. R.C. Workman came knocking, but Workman left his business card with a hand-written note on the back:
“Brenda: Please contact me at: 304-573-6190.”