Eight Amish men have been jailed by a judge in Kentucky for non-payment of fines after refusing to fix reflective orange warning triangles to the back of their horse-drawn buggies.
The unusual suspects, whose mugshots have been published online, were arrested for misdemeanours. link
These men did take precautions by applying reflective tape to their carriages but the state approved bright orange triangle is offensive to their religious requirements for modesty.
I have not found any evidence of mass buggy catastrophes do to visibility issues in the state so it seems as if they have been managing safety issues sensibly enough. Here is some analysis of the issue.
As a group, these people are as gentle as doves and this treatment of them is completely unacceptable! To add insult to injury they photographed each one of them (which I shall not re-post here out of respect) which is prohibited by their sincerely held religious beliefs. This is utterly demeaning to these gentlemen.
The case has been running since 2008 and the men have been represented by a civil rights group, but it was reported that their latest appeal was refused in June. William Sharp, their lawyer from the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, invoked their constitutional right to religious liberty.
“This case is about the right of Kentuckians to freely exercise their religious beliefs and, by necessity, the limits of government’s ability to impose a substantial burden on that right.”
Yes! The ACLU is helping to defend these people. For all the bad rap that the ACLU gets, I have found that state ACLU organizations have stepped up to the plate many times to defend religious freedom and even the Second Amendment. The environment of government today makes strange bedfellows of thinking people. What is done to one can be done to all and if we want to be free to practice (or not) our religion as our conscious dictates, we have to stand up for others’ right to do the same. Injustice to one is injustice to all.
Another article about the situation, published on Sept 12, 2011
And here is a Kentucky gentleman, Ken Crawford, that gets it;
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. Read more
In the meantime, If you feel the need to ask questions or express your feelings about the plight of these Amish folks (as I do!) I have added the contact info of two of the officials directly involved in this decision.
Judge Deborah Hawkins of Graves County district, who sentenced them. She was not pleased to do so but could find no other option.
“If I had my preference, these cases would not be in front of me,” she said. “But I don’t get to pick and choose the cases I hear.” link
Chief District Judge
Graves County Courthouse
100 E. Broadway
Mayfield, KY 42066
(270) 247-0580 (Phone)
(270) 247-8221 (Fax)
and Sheriff Dewayne Redmond who says he hates it that they had to go to jail, but the law is the law.
“The state law says they must display the triangles and they’ve refused to do that.” link
Graves County Sheriff DeWayne Redmond