Nearly one day after being handcuffed and detained in a Montana Highway Patrol car on Reserve Street, Thomas Rybens Walker was once again arrested for making a statement late Thursday night on his distaste for ConocoPhillips' big rig haul through Idaho and Montana. Online records confirm Walker, 19, was released from the Missoula County Detention Center after being booked on a charge of disorderly conduct.
Walker, reached by the Indy before his court appearance today, said the arrest occurred while he and three friends were standing along the highway near Bonner. The protesters—unaffiliated with any of the big rig opposition groups in Missoula—were awaiting the passage of ConocoPhillips' two loads, Walker said, when Montana Highway Patrol troopers arrived and asked to see identification. Walker refused to produce his driver's license, feeling, he said, that their presence on public property off the highway didn't warrant the action.
"We were just standing on the grass off the highway," Walker said. "We couldn't even see the loads yet."
Walker was cited for obstructing a public road early Thursday morning when he sat down on Reserve Street and refused to move. Law enforcement released him in the Walgreens parking lot after the loads had passed and the big rig protest had dispersed.
"I think they recognized me," Walker said of last night's arrest.