Highway Occupiers arrested in Georgia

Two members of a small band of Occupy marchers were arrested this morning in Madison County, Georgia when they refused to give identification to police officers. Sarah Handyside and Garth Kiser were arrested and released without charges today in what may have been police harassment. A mountain of phone calls from supporters around the country assisted in their release.

The highway Occupiers, or Walkupiers as they call themselves, set off from Washington, DC on December 4 and have been making their way to Atlanta, Georgia.

Soon after the marchers set off this morning in Hull, Georgia, they ran into trouble with police. After taking too long to cross a main road, two cops claimed they had received a complaint that the hikers were holding up traffic and making a disturbance. They requested ID, but most of their IDs were in their packs being transported by a support vehicle.

Two members refused to give their names citing lack of probable cause, and they were immediately arrested. The rest of the group warned the officers about bad publicity, but they probably had no idea what they were in for. The arresting officer’s badge number and sheriff’s phone number were immediately posted on Facebook.

“It was probably the quickest experience anyone has had in a jail so far,” said Paul Sylvester, an Iraq war veteran who joined the march in Raleigh. “Garth said the phone was ringing off the hook. There were 50 calls within 20 minutes.”

Handyside and Kiser vowed to hunger strike until release, and their friends joined them in solidarity. But their stay in jail was short. They were released by 7pm without charges. Sylvester credits all the phone calls by supporters.

Walkupiers have been arrested before on this journey in Raleigh and Charlotte. Sylvester said that they often resist when they feel they encounter injustice. “It may seem like it’s not worth standing up for,” he said. “But it’s such an inspiration to a lot of people, and it brings us closer to communities.”

The marchers are taking a day off tomorrow to recuperate in Athens, Georgia. When they set off the following day, they will have a new addition, a three-time Afghanistan war veteran and medic.

They had originally planned to reach Atlanta on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but now expect to get there by January 28 or 29.

Sylvester said he had good feelings about approaching Atlanta but was more excited about the possibility of continuing on to New Orleans. They’re working out the details now for extending the march.

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