Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila's 'brothers' in Christmas pageant case walk out of court without cooperating
GREEN BAY - The two men accused of packing pistols and refusing to leave a children's Christmas pageant they attended on behalf of former Packer player Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila walked out of court Tuesday morning probably believing they beat the system.
Jordan Salmi, 24, and Ryan Desmith, 22, are charged with obstructing officers, disorderly conduct and carrying concealed weapons on Dec. 17 at the Assembly of God Church, where members of Providence Academy — including Gbaja-Biamila's three children — were performing.
Salmi and Desmiith elicited snickers from the gallery in Brown County Courtroom A, as they largely refused to cooperate during an initial court appearance before Court Commissioner Cynthia Vopal.
In the end, a courtroom security officer simply kicked Salmi out of the courtroom when he declined to sit, answer questions or say anything beyond identifying himself as "state of man."
There were 40 other people in court this morning on a variety of unrelated charges, and court officers were instructed ahead of time to remove Salmi or Desmith if they started holding up the process, the officer later explained.
Desmith was marginally more cooperative. He sat when Vopal told him to, but he also identified himself as "man," told her she would be "held fully liable" if she entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf, and answered most of the rest of her questions with either "You got my notice" and "What court is this?"
He is scheduled to be in court Jan. 17 for an adjourned initial appearance.
He exchanged congratulatory fist-bumps with Salmi, Gbaja-Biamila and other well-wishers as he re-entered the gallery after his court appearance.
Vopal reconvened Salmi's hearing later in the morning to reschedule his first appearance for Jan. 28. Salmi was not in the courtroom at the time.
The two men remain free on the cash bonds that Gbaja-Biamila posted for them shortly after their arrests.
Outside the courtroom, Salmi referred all questions to Gbaja-Biamila, who said he was pleased with the outcome but admitted he did not know what would happen next.
"This is all new to us," he said.
Salmi and Desmith are members of Gbaja-Biamila's church, Straitway Praiseland, which is a subsidiary to Straitway Truth Ministry, a Hebrew-Israelite church based in Tennessee. The group professes to be followers of Jesus and to adhere to what they believe is a literal interpretation of the Bible and the Constitution.
Entering a plea to charges in court is admitting the court has jurisdiction over you, and Gbaja-Biamila and his followers won't do that, Gbaja-Biamila said. He has not been charged in connection with the incident.
Under Gbaja-Biamila's belief system, the government has no jurisdiction over "man" or "woman," only people operating under an accepted title, such as "defendant" or "respondent."
"We don't plea to man. They are not our judge," he said. "Where in the Constitution does it say you have to plead?
"People just can't be ordering people around. This isn't slavery. We have rights."
All of the other 40 people in court that morning were willingly giving up their own rights by cooperating, he said.
"We're not here to change the law, not here to change how America does its thing," he said.
Gbaja-Biamila has previously said Salmi and Desmith attended the Christmas pageant at his direction, simply to photograph or video his children participating. He said recognizing Christmas goes against his religious beliefs because Christmas has pagan roots, and he ordered Providence Academy not to put his children in the pageant. He wanted proof of their participation so he could charge the school headmaster and the school for use of his "property," he said.
Gbaja-Biamila and his wife divorced in 2017 and the court granted his ex-wife 100% placement and 50-50 custody of the children. Gbaja-Biamila says the school and courts are doing everything in their power to give authority to the ex-wife, which goes against his interpretation of the Bible.