Three protestors, including Fairness Campaign Leader Chris Hartman, were arrested Thursday morning at the Kentucky State Fair outside the Kentucky Farm Bureau’s annual fundraiser.
Hartman and others were protesting the Farm Bureau’s policies, which include opposing abortion rights and defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Fairness Campaign Organizer Maggie Carnes said Hartman presented a ticket for the bureau’s fundraiser, but was denied entry. When Hartman and others protested, they were handcuffed and arrested. Carnes confirmed that Carla Wallace, the campaign’s co-founder, and Sonja DeVries were among those arrested.
“Shame, shame, shame,” protesters chanted as Hartman was dragged out by police.
“This is a police state. This is what it looks like. This is what discrimination looks like, and what the Kentucky Farm Bureau looks like,” Hartman said.
Carnes said Hartman was charged with resisting arrest, menacing and disorderly conduct in the 2nd degree. Wallace and DeVries were charged with menacing and disorderly conduct in the 2nd degree.
“[We] were peacefully protesting Kentucky Farm Bureau and letting people know about Kentucky Farm Bureau’s discriminatory policies,” Carnes said.
KFB President Mark Haney said he was aware of Thursday morning’s arrests, adding that protests against the bureau are nothing new. In fact, Hartman, Wallace and DeVries were arrested for a similar protest in 2015 but charges for that arrest were dropped.
“We don’t really apologize for our policies,” Haney said. “It’s our membership that sets our policies and we don’t discriminate. We welcome everyone in the farm bureau.”
But Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union Spokesperson Amber Duke said many people don’t know about those policies which support limiting reproductive rights, the death penalty and denying transgender youth access to bathrooms.
“Ultimately, we want Kentucky Farm Bureau to stop the discrimination,” Duke said. “We are Kentucky. We’re people of color. We’re LGBTQ folks, trans folks. We’re teachers, we’re people who unionize and organize. And so we’re just not going to cede Kentucky just to the Kentucky Farm Bureau.”
Duke said the bureau has “hidden behind” its process and 97-year history. State Representative Attica Scott, who was also protesting on Thursday, disagreed with that history.
“Ninety-seven years ago, a lot of people who looked like me weren’t in the positions that we’re in today .. This country was founded on institutional and systemic racism, so why should we continue that?” Scott said. “You should reflect all of your customers. And in order to do that, you need to eliminate some of your policies that are racist, that are discriminatory, and that exclude people.”
All three activists are due in court tomorrow at 9 a.m.