Preachers still jailed after Cherry Blossom Festival arrests | News
A Tennessee man and his son were arrested after passing out religious pamphlets and carrying a banner at the Cherry Blossom Festival a couple of weeks ago.
Stephanie Craft and her family travel around the country preaching gospel. On March 22nd she says her husband Larry Craft and son Josiah Craft were arrested at the festival.
"They carry banners and the police said that they had to leave the park, that they needed a permit to be there. My husband said he didn't believe that, constitutionally he had a right to be there. And he asked to see a copy of the permit. And so the officer said well lets go talk about it and I'll show you in the trailer," said Craft.
A deputy's incident report says he asked the Crafts, who are Baptists, if they had a permit to hold a religious demonstration.
Captain Eric Walker with the Bibb County Sheriffs Office says event coordinators wanted the Crafts to leave the park.
He says the Crafts were told they could stand outside the park about 100 yards away. And if they didn't they would be arrested. He says they were told this twice.
Both men are charged with willful obstruction of law enforcement. "My husband would have left if they had said I am going to arrest you," said Craft.
Josiah, who lives in Johnson County, was also charged with carrying deadly weapons at a public gathering.
"He was carrying his pistol and the officers told him that he could not have that in the city park but according to Georgia state law he has a right to carry that," said Craft.
Georgia Code Section 16-11-127 states "a person is guilty of a misdemeanor when he or she carries to or while at a public gathering any explosive compound, firearm, or knife designed for the purpose of offense and defense."
Craft says deputies told her and her family that signs posted at the festival said guns are prohibited.
"And we went back and looked, we even videotaped it, there's nothing there," said Craft.
She says her husband and son told her they refuse to sign a waiver to get bond because they aren't guilty.
According to published reports Larry Craft was arrested in 2012 on trespassing and obstruction charges outside the Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, a jury found him not guilty. Stephanie Craft says her husband and son have been busy inside the Bibb County jail, preaching to fellow inmates.