The Pensacola News Journal reports…
“A crowd of demonstrators gathered outside the federal courthouse in downtown Pensacola Monday to support a polarizing local evangelist.
Kent Hovind, founder of the Creation Science Evangelism ministry and the theme park Dinosaur Adventure Land, is scheduled to be tried on charges of contempt and mail fraud over the next two weeks. This morning, a group of about a dozen supporters crowded around the intersection of Garden and Palafox streets with signs and words of support.
The group is planning to be here for the duration on the proceedings.
“We pray for justice that Kent be liberated at the shame of the government,” said Alan Hoyle, who came to Pensacola from North Carolina last week for the trial. “They’ve persecuted a non-violent person who has done no wrong.”
The demonstrators — who came from as far away as Texas, Ohio and Colorado — stood on street corners and the courthouse steps holding an array of “Free Kent” signs.
Hovind currently is approaching the end of a 10-year prison sentence for tax-related crimes, but he accrued six new charges from prison while allegedly disputing the government’s right to sell his forfeited property.
If convicted of the charges — mail fraud for sending “fraudulent” documents contesting the government’s right to sell his property and contempt of court for violating a federal injunction instructing him not to file any more documents — Hovind could have decades more tacked on to his sentence.
Many of Hovind’s supporters have maintained that he is being targeted by the government because of his religious beliefs.
Hovind is a young Earth creationist, a subset of Christians who believe that the Earth was created approximately 6,000 years ago. Hovind’s theme park supported this idea and featured exhibits suggesting humans and dinosaurs existed at the same time.
Ernie Land, a former member of Hovind’s board of trustees, said the government has shown religious bias in the case, delayed the trial repeatedly to aid prosecutors despite protest from Hovind, and pursued mail fraud charges against Hovind at great cost to the American public despite the fact that Hovind’s actions ultimately did not impact the government’s ability to sell his land.
“They’re supposed to give him a fair trial, and I’m having a problem seeing that,” Land said.
Jury selection was Monday, and the trial will be held over approximately the next two weeks with Chief U.S. District Judge M. Casey Rodgers presiding. Hovind will be alongside a co-defendant, Paul John Hansen.”