30 Protestors Detained at Ten Commandments Removal

Jun 12, 2003 12:31 PM EDT

WEST UNION, Ohio — More than 30 protestors were taken into custody while they locked arms and knelt in prayer against a judge’s order to remove the 800-pound granite tablets from four schools in the Adams County School district, June 9. The four tablets were removed from Peebles, West Union, North Adams and Manchester high schools.

“I am willing to do whatever it takes, to be arrested or whatever,” said the Rev. Phil Fulton, who was detained but not charged with a crime. “This is our religious right. This is our freedom of speech.”

The sheriff’s deputies showed hesitation in arresting the protestors; none of the detained was charged with a crime.

“These people are religious people and don’t want to cause me or anyone else trouble,” Sheriff Kermit Howard said. “We’re just here because there’s a court order.”

As the last monument was loaded on the truck, the sheriff’s deputies and school officials joined with the protestors in prayer.

“A judge’s order is a judge’s order,” said Francis Manion, the school board’s lawyer. “We think (the judge) got it wrong, but it’s the school board’s duty to remove the monuments.”

The ruling, made my U.S. Magistrate Timothy Hogan in Cincinnati last year, was based on the grounds that displaying the commandments violates the constitutional separation of church and state. He ordered them removed on Monday, after the school year was finished.

“We have to make the decision in America if there’s going to be local control of what we’re going to teach our children,” said Dave Daubenmire, among those protesting at Peebles High. “Is it going to be the people here in the community, or some judge in a courtroom in Washington? The people of Adams County have spoken.”

By Pauline J.