And not only rocks. Someone (or someones) is attacking Amish homes in the early morning hours, throwing dangerous objects through home windows. This has played out in a series of attacks on Amish residences in north-central Ohio over the past several months.
From the report by News 5 Cleveland:
MEDINA, Ohio — The Medina County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a string of crimes committed against Amish people.
Detectives are trying to figure out who is responsible for throwing railroad spikes, rocks and other items into homes, shattering windows and creating fear.
Deputies have responded to 14 similar calls for service and six police reports have been filed.
Since the Amish seem to be specifically targeted, the incidents could be considered hate crimes, according to Det. Larry Covey.
“They’re picking specifically on the Amish. Nobody else is reporting this. It’s been all Amish victims at this point,” Covey said. “I don’t understand why we would pick on that portion of our residents in the county. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Most of the criminal damage has taken place in the last two months in Homerville, a small community in the southwest section of the county largely populated by Amish.
Other objects have included soda cans, bottles filled with rocks and tuna cans. Here’s an image of one of the railroad spikes that went through a window:
Fortunately no one has been reported injured. But if there have been 14 calls to police, that probably means there have been a lot more actual incidents than that. Amish people generally report crimes less often (and the plainest Amish, with more limited access to telephones, are even less apt to do so).
Unfortunately it sounds like they don’t have much to go on as far as the perpetrator, other than “a dark-colored four-door sedan that has been reported near some of the homes.”
Cleveland 5 also got commentary from a member of the community who wished to remain anonymous:
An Amish man who lives and works in the area said the crimes have created a lot of worry. He did not want to be identified.
“They’re scared. They have a family to protect,” he said. “One of the first ones that was thrown was an Estwing hammer through a window in a living room on a rocking chair at like 3 o’clock in the morning.”
He’s grateful no one has been hurt, but worries that could happen if the crimes continue.
“I mean, railroad spikes— that’s dangerous,” he said. “If there’s anything against us, or what makes it happen? That’s the thing I have a question about. Whatever makes this happen, if people could talk to us, if we could sit down and talk together and be friends.”
A hammer thrown through a window to land on a rocking chair in the early morning hours – where someone could conceivably be snoozing. It goes without saying that someone could be killed. What kind of charges would the perpetrator or perpetrators face for this kind of thing, if and when they are caught? I would hope severe ones.
Homerville is in the large Swartzentruber Amish community in Medina and Ashland Counties. Swartzentruber Amish are of course one of the plainest of all Amish groups. And I don’t have data to support this, but I would suspect the most conservative Amish are more often victims of such harassment and attacks (have a look at this study for more on reasons why some target the Amish).
The plainest Amish groups are the most different from non-Amish in terms of culture and lifestyle. In some ways they’re even quite different from higher Amish groups, for that matter. I suspect this greater cultural distance makes it easier for non-Amish evildoers to harass and even do violence against them. They are clearly “not us”, after all.
And there are sadly plenty of such examples. Last year in this same area, teens were caught for throwing water bottles at Amish children coming home from school. Prior to that someone used a truck to harass and frighten an Amish person in another Swartzentruber community. There have been even more serious attacks. The one that stands out is the case of gunshots fired at Amish homes in Wisconsin.
At the same time, it should be noted that sometimes the people behind attacks and vandalism are actually wayward Amish youth, or Amish-raised people harboring ill will towards their former communities. And to be fair, I have even heard of harassment going the other way.
What am I talking about? Once a former Amish family that had left the community told me that their former church members had been vandalizing their property. Humans are humans I suppose, though I’ve much less often heard of those types of stories.
As with car versus buggy accidents, in these types of stories Amish usually come out on the losing end. It’s good that this conservative Amish group sees a need to involve law enforcement to this degree to get these dangerous attacks stopped.