The 10 protesters arrested Monday in Gov. Nathan Deal’s office, including state Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, were released on signature bonds at midnight and were met by a group of about 15 supporters at the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta.
Officers arrested the “Medicaid 10” after they refused to leave Deal’s office in a protest over his stance opposing expansion of the government health care program for the poor in Georgia. They have been charged with obstruction and criminal trespassing, both misdemeanors.
Fort was back at work in the Senate chamber Tuesday morning, telling colleagues that his support of Medicaid expansion was not a partisan issue and should be a “no-brainer” for the governor. Fort also took umbrage to a tweet making fun of his arrest by Deal spokesman Brian Robinson, saying it belittled a serious issue. “People are dying,” Fort said, “and that’s the level of discourse we’re getting from the governor’s office on this issue.”
The others arrested with Fort were Kathy Acker, Marguerite S. Casey, Brittany Gray, Daniel Hanley, Megan Harrison, the Rev. Alan Jenkins, Kevin Moran, Karen Regae and Michael Sehumm.
The arrests were orchestrated by Moral Monday Georgia, a group that has modeled its political protests after weekly demonstrations that rocked North Carolina last year and led to hundreds of arrests each week. Georgia organizers count support from a number of different groups, and they advocate progressive policies at sharp odds with the state’s conservative Republican leadership.
The protests at the Capitol started on the first day of the legislative session Jan. 13, but Monday’s arrests were the first as part of the demonstrations.