The Rev. Hosea Williams and seven other civil rights demonstrators were arrested today as they picketed a television talk show featuring residents of Forsyth County, which has no black residents.
Oprah Winfrey, a black talk show hostess from Chicago, said she brought her program to the north Georgia county to find out "why this community has not allowed black people to live here since 1912."
Williams, who vowed to protest because Winfrey refused to have blacks participate in the program, was arrested outside the restaurant where the show was taking place.
Also arrested were C. T. Vivian, another activist from Atlanta; Williams' daughter, Elizabeth Omiliani, and five others who were not identified. They were taken to the County Jail.
Sheriff Wesley Walraven said they were charged with unlawful assembly on a state highway because they refused repeated requests to leave the shoulder of the highway next to the restaurant.
"Rev. Williams was screaming, 'Arrest me! Arrest me!' " Walraven said. "So we did."
Winfrey mentioned the arrests during the latter part of the broadcast and said Williams was not invited to participate because the purpose of the show was to air the views of Forsyth County residents.
After the broadcast, Winfrey was asked how comfortable she felt as a black in Forsyth County. "Not very comfortable at all," she replied. "I'm leaving."
She said she found "fear on both sides" in the county. "A lot of white people . . . are afraid of other white people in this community."
Williams, an Atlanta city councilman, led a march of about 25,000 civil rights activists in the county Jan. 24. That march followed a smaller demonstration a week earlier in which Williams and about 75 other marchers were confronted by 400 Ku Klux Klan members and supporters, some of whom hurled rocks and debris.