Amish spend first day behind bars
GRAVES COUNTY, Ky. — Ken Crawford said it was an extraordinary event that led him to display a simple sign.
Hung on the back of his wheelchair, it reads, "Free our Friends" and it has a picture of a horse and buggy.
The "friends" in this case are a group of Amish men who are behind bars. They are men he has never met.
"I want to be here because I have my religious freedoms as a Catholic and this could just as easily be me," he said, making another lap around the Mayfield block that is home to both the courthouse and jail.
Jailer Randy Haley understands the argument but told Local 6 he also understands his responsibilities.
"We got a job to do, so we do it."
Danny Byler was sentenced to 10 days. Jacob Gingerich will serve seven days and Emanuel Yoder will spend three days behind bars at the Graves County Jail.
Levi Hostetler, David Zook, Eli Zook, Menno Zook and Mose Yoder will be spending four days behind bars.
A ninth defendant, Levi Zook, was set to spend three days behind bars. But Jon Via, a man describing himself as a "concerned citizen" paid off Zook's $148 dollar fine so Zook could return home to a sick child.
Haley said the eight men have already set themselves apart from most inmates.
"They were here at about 9:30. They just sat outside and waited till 11 because we couldn't take them until then."
Haley said the group was so easy to work with. All eight were booked in less than 30 minutes.
But, he said, some concessions were made. The men were offered and accepted dark uniforms and shoes instead of prison-issued uniforms. Additionally, the group is being kept together in a large holding cell.
"I hate they had to go to jail," Sheriff Dewayne Redmond admitted.
But, he said, it comes down to their safety and the safety of others.
"The state law says they must display the triangles and they've refused to do that."
Ironically enough, in a battle that began over that sign, Ken Crawford knows his sign will not do much.
"I'm doing what very little I can to say this is wrong," he said.
The group has been represented by an ACLU lawyer since 2008.
In a phone interview, Bill Sharp told Local 6, "We're certainly disappointed the judge decided to go forward with the hearing and impose these sentences. Nevertheless, we remain hopeful the Kentucky Supreme Court will decide to hear their appeals."
Sharp said his clients do not intend to install the reflective triangle, which they say goes against their religious beliefs. He said the group wants to use reflective tape instead as an alternative.
Sheriff Redmon said he will not be targeting Amish drivers who are not using the reflective triangle but he said he will continue to enforce the law and he will cite drivers not using them.