Eighty-three handcuffed miners were marched into a mining town courthouse here today to hear a judge, the son of a coal miner, say he had "prayed about" their violent acts and was releasing them from jail without having to post bond.
The miners, who engaged the Kentucky state police in a pitched battle with sticks on Monday, were arraigned on charges of violating a court order limiting pickets at the Justus Mine, owned by the Blue Diamond Coal Co., to six miners. They still face charges of disorderly conduct and wanton endangerment.
"Give me your word - if you will - that you will not return to the picket line . . . so that all violence can be avoided on all sides of this unfortunate controversy," Circuit Judge Philip Wicker intoned.
As each group of 20 miners nodded in agreement to the repeated message, the judge smiled and said, "I've rarely known a mountain man to go back on his word."
According to a union source, there was shooting between guards and those miners who were not in jail Monday night. Also, trees were felled across power lines leading to the mine, cutting them. United Mine Workers Washington spokesman Paul Fortney said the union would have no statement about the violence until Wednesday when union President Arnold Miller returns from the World Series in New York.