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Monday, January 27, 2014

Moral Monday activists arrested during Gold Dome protest

Posted By and on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 5:01 PM

Georgia's Moral Monday movement, a weekly rally urging Gov. Nathan Deal to expand Medicaid in the the state, showed it was ready to engage in civil disobedience - and face arrest - to deliver its message. This evening, approximately 10 protesters, including a state senator, were arrested after they refused to leave Deal's office.

Around 4:30 p.m., as nearly 60 activists chanted outside the Capitol as part of the weekly protest, state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, several ministers, and protesters filed out of a side room in the Gold Dome and walked directly to Deal's office. Georgia Capitol Police blocked the entrance to the office and told Fort, who was holding the letter addressed to Deal, only 10 people would be allowed to enter.

More photos and videos after the jump.

Inside, the group waited patiently for Deal.

State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, said he and others gathered to petition [their] government.
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, said he and others gathered to 'petition [their] government.'

The Rev. Alan Jenkins of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, who also serves as a chaplain at a metro Atlanta hospital, recalled the story of a man he met last week who, because he had no health insurance, delayed treatment for high blood pressure. His wife ultimately found him in their bathroom after he experienced a stroke. He led the group in prayer, which Deal's administrative assistants respected by stopping their work and bowing their heads.

The Rev. Alan Jenkins of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, leads the group in prayer.
  • Thomas Wheatley
  • The Rev. Alan Jenkins of Oakhurst Presbyterian Church, leads the group in prayer.

Sgt. David Herring of the Georgia State Patrol, who also serves on Deal's security team, told the group around 5 p.m. that he would accept a letter for the governor, who was in a meeting. But Fort and the other protesters said they would wait until they could deliver the letter to Deal in person. Deal's staff made water available to the group, who took a seat on the couch in the reception area.

"I believe in taking care of my brothers and sisters, no matter their circumstances - but especially those in need of physical care and healthcare," said Karen Reagle, a lay minister emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. "It's unconscionable and immoral not to do for them what they can't do for themselves."

Around 5:20 p.m., Capitol Police informed the protesters that they were violating OCGA ยง16-11-34.1(g), which prohibits picketing, protesting, or causing a disturbance in the Gold Dome. When it was clear the protesters would not exit, placed the men and women under arrest.

The group was walked outside and greeted by fellow protesters, chanting and singing, and then re-routed into the Gold Dome's basement.

A crowd gathers on the south side of the capitol waiting for the arrested protesters to be escorted out.
  • Joeff Davis
  • A crowd gathers on the south side of the capitol waiting for the arrested protesters to be escorted out.

Protesters who were arrested were brought back inside the Capitol after other Moral Monday supporters greeted them.
  • Joeff Davis
  • Protesters who were arrested were brought back inside the Capitol after other Moral Monday supporters greeted them.

Capitol Police snuck the arrested protesters through the Gold Dome to the other side, where an Atlanta Police van was waiting. The protesters were transported to Fulton County Jail in northwest Atlanta, law enforcement officials said.

Arrested protesters sing songs from the back of the police van before they were taken away.
  • Joeff Davis
  • Arrested protesters sing songs from the back of the police van before they were taken away.

CL was unable to get the names of all the men and women who were arrested. When more information becomes available, we'll update.

This story has been updated to reflect additional information.

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