A list of “factoids” for quick usage.

  • In March, hundreds of women protested a bill that proposed harsh restrictions on abortion providers.
  • The first “Moral Monday” protest was on April 29, featured 50 protesters and 17 arrests. It was led by the NC NAACP. At that point, the term “Moral Monday” was not being used.
  • Student protests on May 1 resulted in 5 arrests.
  • May 6 is the second ”Moral Monday” rally, this time focusing on laws hurting children and the poor. 30 were arrested.
  • The third “Moral Monday” rally, and the first to use the moniker, was on May 21. It saw 49 arrested. Lawyers said they believe the arrests are unconstitutional.
  • The fourth “Mega Moral Monday” rally on June 3 saw over 1,600 protesters demonstrate outside the NC legislature; 151 were arrested.
  • The director of Greenpeace wrote a column in praise of the rallies.
  • Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies wrote that he was honored to have been arrested.
  • On June 10, the largest “Moral Monday” rally yet saw thousands of demonstrators and 84 arrested, including a reporter from the Charlotte Observer.
  • After the June 10 rally, NC GOP chair Claude Pope issued a scathing rebuke of the rallies, and characterized the protesters as “outsiders” and ”aging hippies.” The demonstrators just want to keep people in poverty and dependent on government handouts, Pope said.
  • The first “Witness Wednesday” took place outside the NC legislature on June 12, and honored slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers.
  • Many of the “Moral Monday” leaders are clergymen from different churches and different faiths, and in a column for the Raleigh News and Observer, explained how their faith drove their decision to lead the rallies.
  • The 7th “Moral Monday” rally, the largest one on record, featured 84 arrests. Research conducted at the rally proved that 98% of the protesters are NC residents, not “outsiders” as Republicans have charged.
  • more to come …

Activism

March 20, 2013

Women Protest Proposed Abortion Restrictions

Hundreds of women come together to protest legislation that they say would put unnecessary restrictions on abortion rights. Many of the protesters line up their shoes on the protest site, the Halifax Mall in Raleigh, to prove a point, as explained by Paige Johnson of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina: “You don’t walk in a woman’s shoes. You don’t know what she’s going through. So don’t try to legislate her health decisions.” Republicans pushing the bill counter that the bill currently sitting in a Senate committee is designed merely to protect the health of women seeking abortions. Senator Andrew Brock (R-Davie) tells a reporter: “This is a major medical procedure. It needs to make sure that we don’t have complications rising from it. We want to ensure the health of the mother.” Brock fails to note that abortions are considered one of the safest medical procedures available, with only 0.3% of abortions resulting in complications requiring hospitalization. Senator Warren Daniel (R-Burke) focuses on a minor provision in the bill, saying: “How can there be a relationship between a woman and her doctor if the doctor’s not required to be present? So that’s part of the bill that I think makes a lot of sense.” Suzanne Buckley of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina says, “A doctor and a woman should be making those decisions together and that politicians have no place in that conversation.” (‘Not in her shoes’ rally protests proposed abortion bill, News 14 Carolina; North Carolina Protesters Tell Anti-Abortion Republicans: ‘You Don’t Walk In A Woman’s Shoes’, Think Progress; Proposed changes to NC abortion law would impose major restrictions on clinics, Carolina Mercury)

April 29, 2013

17 Arrested in Protest at NC Legislature

rallies montage
image courtesy of linda jenkinson

Fifty protesters march into the NC legislature and block the doors of the NC Senate, in an act of civil disobedience that results in 17 being arrested. The protest is led by the Reverend William Barber, the head of the North Carolina NAACP. Barber stands in the rotunda on the second floor and reads what the Raleigh News and Observer calls an “indictment against the Republican-led legislature for denying Medicaid coverage to as many as 500,000 poor people, cutting unemployment benefits and proposing legislation to divert money from public education and require a voter ID at the polls.” Barber calls Governor Pat McCrory (R) and the legislative leaders the “George Wallaces” of this generation, and says, “There must be a witness in the face of extremism and regressive public policy.” Barber and 16 others, including Duke University scholar Tim Tyson and other clergy members, are among those arrested. General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver warns the protesters three times to disperse or be arrested. The 17 arrested are the ones who chose to stay regardless of the warnings, and are led away, their hands bound with plastic zip ties. They will likely face charges of disorderly conduct, second-degree trespass and violation of building rules, all misdemeanors, according to Weaver. Representative Michael Speciale (R) says the protests will not impact the legislative procedures. “They have a right to protest; we have a right to disagree,” Speciale says. “If we are here to do what is right for North Carolina, then we are doing the right thing.” (NC NAACP president, 16 other protestors arrested outside NC Senate, Raleigh News and Observer; Seventeen arrested outside N.C. Senate, Raleigh News and Observer)

April 29, 2013

NAACP Releases Statement of Principle Regarding Protests

The North Carolina NAACP releases a statement, “Why We Are Here Today,” to go with the day’s protests outside the NC legislative building. The statement characterizes the participants as “North Carolinians who choose nonviolent civil disobedience in the face of an avalanche of extremist policies that threaten healthcare, education, voting rights, especially the poor, African-Americans, Latinos, Women, seniors and students.” It cites the NC Constitution’s Declaration of Rights in saying: “We hold it to be self-evident that all persons are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, the enjoyment of the fruits of their own labor, and the pursuit of happiness. All political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.” The statement then quotes the Bible’s book of Micah in saying that God requires all of us “to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.” It is in that spirit, the statement says, that the protesters gather. Letters to Governor McCrory and the legislative leadership asking that they reconsider “their assault on the poor, the unemployed, our many citizens without healthcare and our embattled public schools” have gone unanswered.

List of Abusive, Harmful Policies

Instead, the leaders of the NC government have denied federal Medicaid funds to 500,000 poor North Carolinians; eliminated unemployment benefits from 165,000 North Carolinians; raised taxes on 900,000 of North Carolina’s poor and working poor “by ending the Earned Income Tax Credit to pay for tax cuts to 23 millionaires;” stripping over a billion dollars from public education and planning to take more, working to implement a voucher plan that would give that money, and more, to private schools, and reducing eligibility for preschool for poor children; repealing the Racial Justice Act “that has exposed the racially discriminatory application of the death penalty;” stripping labor and union rights by changing the state Constitution; strip voting rights from millions of NC citizens by rolling back early voting, banning Sunday voting, ending same-day registration, “impos[ing] an unneeded poll tax disguised as a Voter ID bill that will cost the state millions,” curbing college students’ right to vote, making it harder for felons to vote, denying parents a $2500 tax credit if their college student does not vote at home, and, the statement says, “leav[ing] us with voting laws more restrictive than Alabama and South Carolina.” Many of the General Assembly’s Republicans pushing this agenda won their elections as a result of the 2010 gerrymandering of the state’s voting districts, “a race-based redistricting plan that is the most discriminatory since the 19th century. Its racial impact is undeniable." The statement says that these policies, taken in aggregate, “will devastate hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who are already suffering. The leadership of this Republican ‘super-majority’ are deaf to the cries of those whom Jesus called ‘the least of these’.”

Five Principles for Positive Change

After the 2012 General Assembly was seated in January, the NAACP, during the seventh annual Historic Thousands on Jones Street Peoples Coalition Assembly, presented the assembly with a “forward-moving agenda” of five general principles that the NAACP believes transcends political concerns. The list includes: economic sustainability by increasing employment, raising wages, implementing a green economy, strengthening labor rights, and bolstering the safety net for the poor; ensuring educational equality and opportunity for all; bolstering the state's health care system by ensuring access to the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid, and Social Security; improving the criminal justice system by ensuring equality and equal protection for all convicted criminals, including minorities; and bolstering voting rights. Those principles have been ignored, the statement claims. “Instead they have turned a deaf ear and a defiant posture towards moving forward and instead have chosen to take our state backward. Surely, in the end, the people will rise up and sweep such leaders from office. Even the Republican leadership knows this to be true. That is why they now seek to reduce the access of eligible voters to the ballot box.”

Attack on Voting Rights

The Republican leadership views maximizing voter turnout as a “menace,” the statement says. “[T]he Republican leadership apparently does not believe voters are entitled to cast a ballot without standing in a long line or making a long drive to a distant polling place. Apparently, Governor McCrory intends to be the new George Wallace, pushing the so-called ‘Southern Strategy’ of Strom Thurmond, Governor Wallace, and Richard Nixon. The leadership of our General Assembly clearly sees political advantage in blocking the vote, attacking the public schools, and dividing North Carolina even further into the haves and havenots. We need an economic development strategy that includes all parts and all people of our state. They need to understand that we are a New South; a South rooted in the best traditions of North Carolina.” To wait while the legislature enacts these new restrictions and then petition the courts for redress is to wait far too long, the statement says. “[W]e cannot wait for the wheels of justice to grind while this legislature grinds up the poor and downtrodden. We have to bear witness to the moral wrong that is being committed here. We have asked the leadership to rethink their unconstitutional and immoral attack on voting rights. But now the House has passed a ruthless attack on democracy, a poll tax in disguise, an attack on college students, the elderly, minorities and the poor. They have no ears to hear.So we have no other choice but to assemble in the people’s house where these bills are being presented, argued, and voted upon, in hopes that God will move in the hearts of our legislators, as he moved in the heart of Pharaoh to let His people go.”

Call to Action

The statement addresses the question of why engage in protests and civil disobedience. The statement notes that “it has been our collective silence that has quietly opened the city gates to these undemocratic violators of our rights. If we must pray forgiveness for anything today, it will be the silence with which we have allowed this to happen in the dark.” The statement quotes Henry David Thoreau’s essay “Civil Disobedience,” where the author asked himself what possessed him to behave so well in the face of such evil. “As people of faith, we understand that we have been called to be the voice of the voiceless and the shepherd of God’s beloved community. What we do here today is only what any responsible shepherd does to alert God’s flock to the presence of the predators of democracy. The statement calls forth echoes from the Civil Rights movement, citing the 1960 lunch-counter protest in Greensboro, the 1960 birth of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) at Raleigh’s Shaw University, and more. “This is the South where our voting rights were won; this is the South where our youth and our elders brought us the Voting Rights Act. It was always a struggle that some called untimely, always a battle between our fears and our hopes, always a disturbance of consciences grown silent with disuse; and sometimes made its path through the blood of the slaughtered. … [H]ere we stand, like a tree beside the water, and we shall not be moved.” The statement calls on “all people of goodwill, regardless of race, political affiliation, or socio-economic background, to examine the tools of the nonviolent moral movement to expose the hurtful, immoral, and unconstitutional policies being passed in the People’s House. Those who cannot put on the yoke of nonviolence can still join and support this movement. But if we care about this great state and its entire people, if we wish to act as moral leaders in our homeland, we must shine the light of words and deeds on these shameful attacks on the poor and working families of North Carolina.” Jesus reminded us that when we feed and clothe the poor, house the stranger, and heal the sick, “[W]hatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Now, the statement says, we must join together in “a coalition of goodwill, a nonviolent volunteer army of love, to oppose this legislature’s heartless, ideologically driven agenda. We call on all people of goodwill to join us, that we might build the bridges of understanding, not the walls of division. We call on all residents of North Carolina who believe in the common good to pray and partner with us as we use the tools of protest and the tactics of nonviolent moral suasion to illuminate for the nation the shameful acts taking place here. We are not alone. We shall speak and we shall act. We will become ‘the trumpet of conscience’ and ‘the beloved community’ that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called upon us to be, echoing the God of our mothers and fathers in the faith. Now is the time. Here is the place. We are the people. And we will be heard.” (Why We Are Here Today, North Carolina NAACP)

May 1, 2013

May Day Protests at Legislature; Five Arrested

may day protest
May Day Protest

Some 350 students from ten other colleges around the state mobilize to protest against what the organizing group, NC Student Power Union, calls “the [NC] legislature’s regressive agenda.” The protest begins with a rally at the NC State Bell Tower, on the campus in southern Raleigh, and then the protesters march to the Civitas Institute, a right-wing think tank funded by multimillionaire and Deputy State Budget Director Art Pope. The students are joined by protesters from organizations representing workers, immigrant rights, and others to march to the NC legislature on Jones Street. Five of the students sit down with a banner that reads: “We Demand a Future! Stop budget cuts! Stop racist voter laws! Stop attacks on workers!” Speakers from the NC Legislative Black Caucus, the NC NAACP, the AFL-CIO, the Southern Workers Assembly, and others, speak to the assemblage, joined by individual students at the microphone. Five students are arrested after trying to enter the legislature. Two are from UNC-Chapel Hill, two from UNC-Greensboro, and one is from UNC-Charlotte. All five are charged with disorderly conduct, and two, Dhruv Pathak and Carissa Morrison, are charged with misdemeanor assault on a government official. One of the arrested students, Zaina Alsous, says, “We knew we were going to get arrested,” but adds of the arrests: “It was totally arbitrary. It’s a public building and it should be accessible to everyone.” Student Juan Miranda says: “We stand behind these five students who took a bold and powerful action today and put their bodies on the line to stop the attacks on the people of NC. Our hope is that many others are inspired to join the fight back against these forces from destroying our state and taking us backwards. We will fight these charges to the end. The fact that these students were arrested simply for peacefully trying to enter and bring their demands into the ‘People’s House’ is absurd, and the additional charges that Morrison and Pathak received are entirely baseless.” Pathak says in a statement: “Education should be affordable and accessible to all students. The right wing legislature and current budget proposal will make it harder for students to get into school and stay in school. My family struggles with finances everyday and has trouble making ends meet. The last thing I need is a multimillionaire writing the state budget who wants to take away my financial aid … That’s why I took this action today.” Alsous says that mass resistance is the only option to move state legislators to take action. “If a few people are able to see what happened yesterday and want to take a stand as well, we’ve definitely done our job.” (May Day 2013 – 350 students mobilize against backwards legislature, 5 arrested; North Carolina Student Power Union; Five students arrested at General Assembly rally, Daily Tar Heel)

May 6, 2013

30 Protesters Arrested While Rallying against Laws Hurting Children and the Poor

Over 100 protesters march on the NC Legislature to protest laws passed by the Republican leadership that they say hurt children and poor people. 30 are arrested for civil disobedience. As in a previous protest, the participants fill the second-floor rotunda, singing and praying, while General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver warns them to disperse or be arrested. Weaver says they will be charged with three misdemeanors, probably disorderly conduct, second-degree trespass and violation of building rules. The 30 who choose not to disperse are led away, their hands bound with plastic zip ties. Two legislators, Earline Parmon (D) and Garland Pierce (D), the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, mingle with the crowd before the arrests begin. The demonstration ends before the House and Senate sessions began. Among those arrested are: William Chafe, a former Duke University dean; Dr. Charles van der Horst, a professor at the UNC School of Medicine in Chapel Hill; and Tye Hunter, executive director of the Center for Death Penalty Litigation. According to the Reverend William Barber, the head of the NC NAACP, the protesters are there to object to “the avalanche of extremist policies” coming from the legislature. Barber cites the legislature’s decision not to expand Medicaid to working class people, the proposed voter ID law, and the move to repeal the Racial Justice Act. Van der Horst tells a reporter that the legislators have “turned their backs” on a half million people who need health insurance; they claim to believe in the sanctity of life, he says, but “what they believe in is protecting their own wealth.” Barber says the weekly protests will continue. House Rules Committee chairman Tim Moore (R) says the protesters are “good folks who feel strongly about what they believe,” but should have chosen a different way to express their views. (30 arrested while protesting laws they say hurt poor, children, Raleigh News and Observer; Demonstrators arrested at General Assembly protest, Raleigh News and Observer)

May 13, 2013

Third “Moral Monday” Protest Draws Hundreds; 49 Arrested

Hundreds of people attend the third protest at the North Carolina General Assembly, now being labeled “Moral Monday” rallies. 49 are arrested for civil disobedience. Organizers say they will hold a rally every Monday for the duration of the legislative session, and they expect each protest to be larger than the last. The protest begins with a rally outside the legislature, featuring prayers and songs. The Reverend William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP and one of the driving forces behind the protests, gives a speech. During the rally, the crowd erupts into applause and cheering when someone announces that a three-judge panel has approved a trial for a lawsuit challenging the 2011 redrawing of North Carolina’s legislative and congressional districts.

“This is the People’s House”

After that, some participants group together for planned civil disobedience activities, and the rest observe. Police announce over loudspeakers that those arrested in last week’s rally would not be allowed into the legislative building. Observers follow the protesters into the building, leaving a crowd of what the Carolina Mercury calls “trespassed supporters“ outside. Upstairs, dozens gather in front of the gold Senate doors, singing, clapping, and displaying yellow ribbons in support of labor rights. About 150 supporters join the throng and the singing, while police videotape the crowd. Police then begin issuing warnings over loudspeakers that arrests are imminent. The observers peacefully leave the building, leaving 49 to be arrested on charges of violating building rules prohibiting disruptive conduct, failure to disperse, and trespassing. Retired minister Vernon Tyson, 83, is one of those arrested. He observes the demonstration from the same bench he had rested on last week, but this time police told him to leave or be arrested. He later tells filmmaker Eric Preston: “I’m a tax-paying citizen and this is the people’s house. I don’t see how I can trespass in a house that I helped to build – and I’m not blocking anybody and I’m not demonstrating. I’m not singing. I’m not clapping my hands. I’m not making any noise.“ The arrested protesters are loaded into two transport buses while supporters cheer. Some in the crowd thank the police for protecting their safety. As the buses drive away, Barber praises the diversity of the crowd, and calls for a movement based in love.

Legal Challenges

Law professor Irv Joyner says legal challenges to the arrests are being drafted, adding, “We think we have clear-cut First Amendment issues” based on the Constitutional right to peaceably assemble and petition the government. But General Assembly police chief Jeff Weaver says his first concern is the safety of the protesters and other citizens in the area, and that the government has the right to make reasonable stipulations about where, when and how a peaceful demonstration can occur. Weaver says of the protesters: “They know the facility, they know the rules. I think they are just doing this to establish their agendas or whatever. They are doing it to make a point, and they are making their point. … Our concern is the safety of the members and staff and the citizens as well as the participants in the activity.” As of now, almost 100 demonstrators have been arrested in the four protests.

“I Just Felt that Enough is Enough”

Many demonstrators say that regardless of whether the legal challenges prevail in court, they will continue to protest at the legislative building. Republicans say that the protests are fueled by political bitterness in the wake of the 2012 Republican sweep of both legislative chambers. But demonstrators say the elected officials are going far beyond what they were elected to do. Durham resident Vicki Ryder, 71, says: “Things are going so far backwards. As a grandmother I’m old enough to remember how we fought this fight many, many years ago, and now it seems that we’re fighting it again. I just felt that enough is enough.” June Durham of Oriental, NC, says she is angry with the legislature’s decision to reject the federal government’s optional expansion of Medicaid benefits, a decision that leaves half a million low-income NC citizens without health care coverage. She says she is considering being arrested next time. Patricia Saylor, who teaches middle school in Chapel Hill, says this is her first protest. “There are so many [bad legislative policies], I can’t keep up,” she explains. “It’s [affecting] universities, too. Our university and public education system are one thing that draws people to our state.” (Moral Monday: May 13, 2013, Carolina Mercury; NC General Assembly police defend arrests of demonstrators, Raleigh News and Observer; Students among 49 arrested in “Moral Mondays” protest, Daily Tar Heel; 49 arrested during NAACP protest at Legislature, WTVD-TV)

May 19, 2013

President of John Locke Foundation Mocks Protesters, Offers to Instruct Them in Democracy

John Hood, the president of the conservative John Locke Foundation writes an editorial for the Winston-Salem Journal advising “Moral Monday” protesters to submit to what he calls “remedial” instruction about the definition and nature of democracy from him. Hood says he could host weekly seminars that he would call “Teachable Tuesdays.” Democracy has no room for civil disobedience, he writes, and says the protests are not exemplars of citizen-powered democracy as the protesters say. Hood argues that the accusations that Republicans gerrymandered the state in order to achieve an unwarranted majority in the legislature are inaccurate, and therefore the argument that blocking the functions of an illegitimate government is not undemocratic is wrong. Hood states, falsely, that “[m]ost North Carolinians voted for GOP legislative candidates in 2012. The resulting majorities were clearly exaggerated by the tilt of the legislative districts, but Republican control was a democratic outcome.” (In reality, the aggregate vote for US representatives was 50.6% Democratic and 48.7% Republican, with almost 100,000 more votes going to Democratic candidates. The legislative votes followed a similar trend.) Hood then states that in past years, Democrats had control of the legislature even though Republican candidates had garnered more votes, and says Democratic gerrymandering and “criminal activity” by elected Democrats caused that to happen, and asks if “Moral Monday” protesters objected to those actions. “Of course not,” he writes. “They liked what the Democrats were doing back then. They don’t like what the Republicans are doing now. The protests aren’t about process. They are ideological and partisan, period.” He considers remarks by the Reverend William Barber, the head of the NC NAACP, that demonstrators should not be arrested to be “an attempt at humor.” Hood then lectures the reader about what civil disobedience actually is, quoting Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and then deriding the protesters for not following the spirit of those two leaders. “To use your body to obstruct the operation of government, and then to object when the police arrest and charge you for the crime, is to engage in uncivil disobedience,” he writes. “It is to hold yourself above your fellow citizens as a self-appointed moral arbiter. It is contemptuous, not persuasive.” The rallies and the arrests are little more than attempts to garner media coverage, he says. The protests, he concludes, are self-defeating, as voters will come to see the protesters as common lawbreakers and not as moral or social leaders. (John Hood says North Carolina activists need ‘teachable Tuesdays’, Winston-Salem Journal)

May 20, 2013

Fourth “Moral Monday” Protest Sees 57 Arrested

Black Caucus joins protest
Black Caucus Joins Protest

Hundreds of protesters fill the rotunda in the NC Legislature in the fourth “Moral Monday” protest. 57 are arrested for civil disobedience after refusing to disperse when ordered by the General Assembly Police. The protests started as relatively small events led by the NC NAACP, but have expanded to include hundreds of people from a wide variety of age ranges, races and professions, all coming together to protest what they call the draconian and hurtful policies being enacted by the Republican-led General Assembly. INDYWeek reporter Will Huntsberry writes: “The protests are a backlash against a wave of policies by the Republican-controlled North Carolina Legislature that have been among the most staunchly conservative in the country. Policies that are being considered or have already become law include cutting Medicaid and unemployment benefits, instituting voter ID, promoting school vouchers, raising taxes on the poor, rolling back environmental standards and limiting felons’ voting rights.” The Reverend William Barber, the chapter president of the NC NAACP, says: “We are here to say we will not allow it. This is not about black people. This is about all people: white, black, Latino.” During the protest, UNC-Chapel Hill graduate Ivanna Gonzales says: “As a woman, I am here to remind legislators that this body is mine. As an immigrant, I am here to remind them that everyone in this country came from somewhere else.” Software developer Rich D’angiolillo of Mebane, 63, says he decided to attend the event today after he learned of a decision by the legislature to block a federally funded Medicaid expansion that would have completely covered 500,000 people through 2016. D’angiolillo says: “I’m not sure if it is the best way or not, but I feel that I have to do something. I don’t feel that my efforts in other ways – letter writing, phone calls – have worked that effectively, so I’ll keep trying until something does work.” One of the arrested protesters, Durham Public Schools board member Leigh Bordley, says she is protesting the legislature’s revamping of the state’s education policies, which she says will drain millions from public schools to benefit voucher programs and private schools primarily patronized by wealthy families. “These are vouchers under another name,” she says. “They are simply a way to transfer money to private companies.” Those arrested face misdemeanor charges of trespassing, failure to disperse and violating building rules, specifically those against raising placards or signs; the NAACP says those arrests may violate the First Amendment rights of those being hauled away by police. Barber says NAACP attorneys are studying possible challenges, partly based on wording in the state constitution that references the citizens’ right to “instruct” their legislators. “There is some question among a lot of legal scholars about how you can arrest somebody for holding up an eight-by-ten placard that says, ‘Don’t cut Medicaid’ when you have the right to instruct,” Barber says. “We do not enter into civil disobedience lightly. I still believe that Speaker [Thom] Tillis and the other Republicans who are going to hurt our state’s most vulnerable might still listen.” General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver says the arrests are legal, according to staff attorneys, saying: “They [the protesters] are the ones that are coming in and causing the disruption. We’ve always given any group access to express their first amendment rights. We issue permits for the outside of the facility.” Of participating in the rally, Bordley says: “It’s so easy to feel powerless in the face of everything that’s happening. It was amazing to be able to act.” (Dozens arrested as NAACP leads protest again at General Assembly, Associated Press; Moral Mondays at the NCGA: 57 arrested May 20; total 153 arrested in 4 Mondays, Blue NC; Crowd size and arrest totals increase at latest Moral Monday protest , INDYWeek)

May 21, 2013

NC NAACP Sends Open Letter to Republican Leadership

The NC NAACP releases an open letter written to Governor Pat McCrory (R), House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R). The letter reads in part: “Today we call on you to look into the eyes of the people and children affected by your policies of cynicism and politics of division and see the hurt they will reap in North Carolina. We demand that you meet with us and those you are hurting with your regressive policies.” The letter notes that as McCrory, Tillis and Berger have met “with the extreme right wing strategists of [the] American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC),” they should also agree “to meet with the parents whose children will not receive pre-K education this year. We ask you to meet with children who would go to even more underfunded schools due to a possible voucher program, expanded charter schools and budget cuts that would all drain resources from public education. We ask that you meet with the students who will suffer because of your efforts to defund and seriously dismantle public education.” The letter asks the recipients to meet with citizens “who will have to pay increased sales and service tax while millionaires get a tax break. Please look directly into the eyes of the people who are the working poor of this state who you raised taxes on when you slashed the Earned Income Tax Credit.” On the topic of voting rights, the letter asks the recipients “to meet with the elderly and the poor who will have a difficult time gathering the documents necessary to obtain a voter ID. We ask you to look these people in the eyes who have voted for decades and will now face barriers to the ballot.” Regarding health care issues, the letter says: “We assume you meet with lobbyists and lawyers. We ask you to meet with the patients who no longer will have healthcare coverage under your policy and the doctors who have sworn an oath to care for them.” The letter concludes: “[W]e understand you meet with the Chamber of Commerce. We ask you to meet with the clergy who provide pastoral work to hundreds of thousands who will soon be without Medicaid or a basic economic safety net in this state. Instead they will have reduced unemployment benefits or no benefits at all. We ask you to look the North Carolinians in the face whom your policies disregard, displace and attempt to disenfranchise. Look us in the eyes and tell us that you are doing this for the good of the whole as our State Constitution that you swore to uphold demands. We respectfully await your response.” The letter is signed by the Reverend William Barber, the leader of the NC NAACP and the pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro. (Moral Monday: May 20, 2013, Carolina Mercury)

June 3, 2013

More than 1,600 Protest, 151 Arrested at “Mega Moral Monday” Rally

Over 1,600 demonstrators gather outside the NC Legislature in the “Mega Moral Monday” rally to protest what they call the “extreme agenda” of the Republican-controlled legislature. The protesters fill the Senate chambers and outside in front of the building. 151 protesters are arrested for refusing to leave the chambers when ordered to do so; they are charged and released at 5 a.m. the next morning. Reverend William Barber, the head of the NC NAACP, says: “The people are awake now, and we have decided to stand up. We are a movement. This is not a moment.” Speaking through a loudspeaker, he lists the legislation passed by the legislature this year, and says: “That’s extreme. That’s immoral, and we must stand up and wake up right here, right now.” Referencing the history of civil rights activism, Barber says: “This ain’t Wisconsin. This is the South, where justice was hammered out.”

Protesters Explain Decisions to Stand Up, Be Arrested

Participant Adam Sotak says: “I’m very hopeful that we the people can make some real changes happen. I was hoping that I could be a small part in creating a spark and bringing more attention to the issues that are happening.” Jennifer Ferrell, one of the protesters who is arrested, tells reporters before she is taken away: “I’m excited. I’m not nervous, I’m passionate. I’m not crazy.” She says she made the decision to go to the rally and be arrested after hearing about so many others standing up to the legislature. “I knew it was time to stop watching and do it myself,” she says. Ferrell and Joanne Harrell, a retired college professor, link arms as they march into the legislative building. They only met today. “What they’ve done to the school system in reducing the amount of money for the kids is unbelievable,” Harrell says. “The kids are our future.” Of her spur-of-the-moment decision to get arrested, Harrell says: “I didn’t think I was going to do this. It’s about time I did something to make a difference.” Retired insurance agent Howard Arbuckle says, “There needs to be a developing sense of outrage.” Doug Swaim, who came with a busload of congregants from his church, says the Republicans are working to “lock in radically conservative policies. They’re not stupid, they understand the demographics of North Carolina, they know they only have a short time to do this. I’m sure they believe in what they’re doing, but I like to call this the last gasp of the angry white man.” College student Wilson Hood says he plans on being arrested at a future demonstration. “I’ll definitely be down there at some point,” he says. “I was raised to act on what I believe in. I see it as my duty.”

Democrats Encourage Participation; Republicans Deride Rally

The North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) says Republican legislators are “dragging” North Carolina “back into the 19th Century,” and, it says, “encourages Democrats to go to the N.C. General Assembly in Raleigh to support Moral Mondays.” Republicans inside the legislative building say that the protests will achieve nothing. Senator Thom Goolsby (R) says: “There is no buzz. There’s none.” Goolsby says he and his fellow Republicans are merely “keeping our promises to the voters.” Representative John Blust (R) dismisses the protests by saying: “I think of it like Carolina playing at Duke. I’m not going to let the Cameron Crazies throw me off my game.”

Aiming at 2014

David McLennan of William Peace University says liberal groups are hoping to increase support in the long term via the protests. “I’m not sure it’s going to make any difference in terms of policy this term,” he says. “I think what they’re looking forward to is next year – next year being an election year – is to keep the base fired up.” Senator Mike Woodard (D), watching the protest, tells a reporter that each week Republicans seem to add more fuel with their actions. The next step is to take the energy to legislative districts and influence the 2014 election, he says. “The key is if the legislature doesn’t listen … then constituents need to start taking action to vote them out.” (‘Moral Monday’ Protest In North Carolina: 151 Arrested As Activists Decry ‘Extreme’ GOP Agenda, Huffington Post; More than 100 arrested as ‘Moral Monday‘ demonstrations grow, WNCN; Protest against NC GOP policies nets 151 arrests, WRAL-TV; More than 150 arrested at NC legislature during Monday protests, Raleigh News and Observer)

June 3, 2013

Greenpeace Director: Moral Monday Protests Part of Beating National Push towards Oppression

Philip Radford, the executive director of Greenpeace, writes a column extolling the virtues of the “Moral Monday” protests in Raleigh. He writes, “The top priority of these Republicans is to pass every law imaginable to wreck the environment and strip away the ability of people to defend their communities – which is exactly why Reverend William Barber and the hundreds of dedicated people of North Carolina will be there again this Monday, singing, chanting, and raising their voices in every way they can to make sure the corporate right doesn’t win in North Carolina.” The protests are important on a national scale, he writes, because “the big money groups fighting the citizens of North Carolina are the same big money groups fighting across the country to disempower the majority who believe in the rights of communities to be safe and self-determined. If the corporate right sees it can win in North Carolina, it will take the same tactics to every vulnerable state in the Union in a full court press against people and the environment. We can’t let that happen.” For decades, entrenched corporations such as Duke Energy have all but controlled the state’s energy policies, but, Radford writes, now that “its old, dirty energy business model” is “barreling towards obsolescence … Duke and other old economy behemoths are getting desperate, trying to hold onto all the power they can before demographics and history sweep them aside.” Radford cites Americans for Prosperity, ALEC, the State Policy Network, and “self-appointed kingmaker” Art Pope as “gleefully running amok at the state house, trying to ram through legislation that would fire all the state’s environmental regulators, restrict renewable energy, wish away global warming, and make sure disenfranchised voters stayed that way.” The groups opposing this corporate agenda are perceived, Radford concludes, “as all one enemy, which is why in North Carolina we are one movement. They try to take away voting rights from people of color because they know those are the people that – if empowered – will fight to make sure that coal plants and toxic waste incinerators don’t end up in their back yards. Communities of color and low-income communities are hurt first and worst by Duke’s rate hikes for dirty energy. They are hurt first and worst by pollution, since companies usually site the coal plants and toxic waste dumps in their communities. They are the people who could benefit most from solar panels on their rooftops and the ability to free themselves from the regressive, costly, polluting electricity grid that Duke currently offers. Which is why we’re standing together to make sure the people are empowered. An attack by corporate interests against North Carolina’s working people, women, people of color, or any other vulnerable group, is an attack on North Carolina’s environment too, and we will stand with our allies to fight that corporate funded threat.” (Why North Carolina's 'Moral Mondays' Matter for Democracy and the Planet, Huffington Post)

June 7, 2013

Institute Director “Honored” to Have Been Arrested during Moral Monday

Chris Kromm, the director of the Institute for Southern Studies, writes that he is “honored” to have been among the 151 people arrested during “peaceful civil disobedience” at the latest Moral Monday rally in front of the NC legislature in Raleigh. The protests, he writes, are “aimed at what many of us see as an extreme and dangerous turn in the direction of our state.” He was joined during the June 3 civil disobedience activities (refusing to leave the legislature when ordered by police) by “teachers, a doctor, a farmer, a former state senator and a veteran of Fort Bragg’s 82nd Airborne – people from all walks of life who care deeply about the future of North Carolina and feel like they are running out of options to make their voices heard in the halls of power.” Some of the protesters at the events are there for personal reasons, Kromm writes, angry enough at the Republican leadership’s “fast-moving agenda that targets the poor, jeopardizes the future of schools and attacks the voting rights of tens of thousands of people,” undermining the very channels voters use “to participate in politics and affect change …” But, he writes, “Moral Monday is clearly about more than that. It’s also about signaling to the broader public that the extreme turn in North Carolina won’t go unchecked. A recent poll showed that only 25 percent of North Carolinians approve of the job the state legislature is doing. Yet that hasn’t caused lawmakers to slow down. If anything, enjoying super-majorities in the House and Senate seem to have fueled a kind of hubris among lawmakers that ignores any thought of compromise – and openly aims to sweep away dissent.” He cites the recent example of Senator Tommy Tucker (R) telling a constituent: “I am the senator, you are the citizen. You need to be quiet.” Instead of the citizens being quiet, they are raising their voices through the Moral Monday protests, and learning that there are thousands more in North Carolina who are equally concerned, worried and angry about the direction the state is being forced to take. Republican leaders have shown their contempt for the protesters, equating them to “crazy” basketball fans, and Governor Pat McCrory (R) has even asserted that they have no right to engage in peaceful civil disobedience. Kromm asks, “I wonder if McCrory would be willing to say that to the face of Rep. John Lewis or Julian Bond, civil rights veterans who were involved in the founding of the Institute for Southern Studies, where I work today?” Like the protesters of the Civil Rights era, Kromm concludes, McCrory and his fellow Republican lawmakers may soon learn “that small protests often grow to become bigger ones; that peaceful disobedience has been one of the great engines of change in country and world; and that leaders who cavalierly dismiss the concerns of aggrieved people often find themselves on the wrong side of history.” (Why I joined Moral Monday, Institute for Southern Studies)

June 10, 2013

Reporter among 84 Arrested at Largest “Moral Majority” Rally to Date

Several thousand people brave tornado warnings and wild weather to gather on the steps of the NC Legislature to protest the NC Republican leadership’s policies as codified by the GOP-dominated General Assembly. 84 protesters are arrested for civil disobedience, including many clergymen and women from around the state, according to NAACP lawyer Jamie Phillips. And, for the first time, a reporter, Tim Funk of the Charlotte Observer, is arrested while interviewing demonstrators. Charlotte pastor Jason Williams, who is not among those arrested, tells the assemblage, “We’re here to stand on the side of the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed.” Seven rabbis from the Triangle area issue a letter in support of the “Moral Monday” protest movement, saying in part: “Many of us have previously attempted to reach out to [General] Assembly leaders for dialogue, and we have been ignored. We therefore endorse the use of nonviolent civil disobedience to draw attention to the reckless and heartless policies currently passing into law in Raleigh. … We recognize the need for solidarity at this time in North Carolina. The Jewish vision of social justice is broadly shared by all people of faith who are mobilizing this Monday, and now is the time to speak out.” Other religious leaders, including Catholic and Episcopal bishops, have released a similar statement in support of the protest movement, calling for a “fervent response from people of faith” in support of the poor, the elderly, and the children.

Accusations of “Outsiders” Driving Movement

Many demonstrators are disturbed at recent remarks by Governor Pat McCrory (R), in which he told a Republican convention in Charlotte that “outsiders” are behind the protest movement. “Outsiders are coming in, and they’re going to try to do to us what they did to Scott Walker in Wisconsin,” McCrory said, referring to mass protests in Wisconsin that resulted in an attempt to recall Governor Scott Walker (R). Walker and the Wisconsin legislature stripped state workers of their collective bargaining rights, a set of rights North Carolina state workers do not have. Many protesters, including 62-year old Mike Moore of Rougemont, hold up signs informing McCrory that he is a North Carolina native unhappy with the GOP agenda.

“Extreme Agenda”

Moore tells a reporter he is aware that neither McCrory nor the General Assembly will change directions any time soon. “There is a tipping point, when it can’t be denied, it can’t be ignored,” Moore says. “The proof will be in the next election.” 67-year old Black Mountain resident Monroe Gilmour made the 230-mile trip to join the protests, and tells a reporter: “I’m here because I’m sad for my state – that this reckless tea party monarchy has taken over a state we could have been proud of. Thousands outside are standing with us and we are standing with them.” Gilmour is one of those arrested. Maureen Sutton, a 68-year old resident of Southern Pines, is also arrested. She tells a reporter: “This legislature has started so many fires, I’m not sure which one to try to put out first. Partly I’m here because I think we have the right to be here – and for me, it’s also about self respect.” The Reverend William Barber, the head of the NC NAACP, is not at the protest, but is at a strategy meeting in Tennessee with faith, labor and legal organizers deciding how to oppose what Barber calls the “extreme agenda” of the Republican majority.

Reporter Arrested

After Funk’s arrest, Cheryl Carpenter, the managing editor of the Charlotte Observer, releases a statement that says he was wrongly detained. “He covers religion for us, and was in Raleigh to write about the Charlotte clergy as they protested at the legislature,” she says. “He was wearing Charlotte Observer identification, and one person there said he had a reporter’s pad and pen in his hand. He was in a public place and there solely to do his job as a news reporter. It is difficult to understand why he would have been detained.” Hugh Stevens, a legal representative for the NC Press Association, says: “It’s totally inappropriate to arrest a reporter if you know he or she is a reporter just doing their job. It seems to me once it is clear that somebody’s there in that role, they should just take them out of the line and say, ‘Get out of here’.” Funk apparently does not move quickly enough away from the crowd that is peacefully awaiting arrest. He is handcuffed and detained with the rest of the protesters, and arraigned on misdemeanor charges of trespassing and failure to disperse. General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver says that Funk ignored a warning from officers to disperse before the arrests begin. “All of the press had moved back – everyone but him,” Weaver says. “We started arresting folks and he stayed in the midst of them and kept conducting interviews, so he was arrested as well.” Though Funk has written about the demonstrations before, today is his first personal experience at the “Moral Monday” rallies. (Clergy lead Monday protests at General Assembly, Raleigh News and Observer; Charlotte Observer religion reporter arrested in Raleigh protest, Raleigh News and Observer; NC newspaper reporter arrested covering protest, Associated Press)

June 10, 2013

NC GOP Chair Calls Moral Monday Protests “Antics” by “Left Wing Liberals” from Outside NC

NC Republican Party chairman Claude Pope accuses the protesters of the Moral Monday rallies of engaging in “prefabricated events” designed to waste tens of thousands of dollars in state money. The NC GOP, in introducing Pope’s remarks, calls the protests “antics from the left wing liberal ‘Moral Monday’ protesters.” Pope says that the Republican leadership in Raleigh “inherited massive debt, a broken economy, and a broken government after the people elected them to lead our state. Since then they have worked towards a balanced budget, taken on much needed tax and education reform, blocked repeated Democrat attempts to raise taxes on ALL North Carolinians, and have done so with a new level of customer service. But we’ve still got a lot of difficult work ahead, we’ve got the 5th highest unemployment rate in the nation.” Pope says of the protests: “The North Carolina Republican Party absolutely supports peaceful and lawful demonstrations as guaranteed by our Constitution. However, deliberately breaking the law and preventing the business of state government to proceed is wrong. These pre-planned arrests cost the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. It makes no sense to protest funding cuts while deliberately costing taxpayers money through unnecessary antics.” He says the protests are “not ‘moral’ at all,” and claims that one of the events’ organizers, NAACP leader Reverend William Barber, “has proudly stated that protesters are coming from as far away as New York, California, and Florida … These protests are prefabricated events that are clearly direct partisan activity.” Pope blames the issues facing North Carolina are directly due to “years of North Carolina being mismanaged under unified Democrat leadership,” and concludes: “The liberal left wing is advocating that the state maintain a constant poverty of the people. We want to take the people out of poverty and into jobs. They are blocking the will of the people who played by the rules, went to the polls, and voted in our free democracy.” Claude Pope is the former chairman of the Wake County Republican Party, and is a distant cousin of multimillionaire Art Pope, who serves as the deputy budget director for Governor Pat McCrory. He currently lives on Bald Head Island, an exclusive community in Brunswick County. (Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope Answers “Moral Monday” Protests, NC Republican Party; Claude Pope Jr. seeks state GOP chair, Raleigh News and Observer)

June 12, 2013

First “Witness Wednesday” Honors Slain Civil Rights Leader

Around 100 protesters gather in front of the NC legislative building for the first “Witness Wednesday,” an adjunct to the “Moral Monday” rallies organized by the NC NAACP and other groups. The rally coincides with the anniversary of the murder of NAACP civil rights activist Medgar Evers, shot to death by a white separatist in Mississippi in 1963. The Reverend William Barber tells the assemblage, “We needed to take time today to honor Evers and others who served in the civil, human and labor rights movements and dedicated their lives to gaining many of the freedoms that exist today.” Eight people are arrested for refusing to leave the building when ordered by General Assembly police. The eight are taken out of the building while singing and praying; inside, the House of Representatives is debating the budget. House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) orders the chamber doors locked during the rally. Among those arrested are Durham City Councilman Steve Schewel, Guilford County Commissioner Carolyn Coleman, and Rocky Mount City Councilman Andre Knight. Coleman says: “The General Assembly knows that we are not pleased with much of the legislation coming out of there now. We are sending a message to the citizens that we can no longer sit back and let them continue to do this and not speak up about it.” Bennett Taylor, head of the Northampton County chapter of the NAACP, says he is there because “somebody has to stand up. … I have grandkids, kids, that are going to reap the benefits.” Rally organizers say they believe the legislative leadership is ordering the arrests instead of coming out and listening to the concerns of the demonstrators. Barber says the rally is also the kickoff to a voter registration drive that will end August 28, the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington where the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech. “We intend to have a turnout in 2014 like no other midyear election this state has ever seen,” he says. (Durham councilman, 7 others arrested at NC General Assembly protest, Raleigh News and Observer; NAACP Moral Monday protest becomes Witness Wednesday, WTVD-TV)

June 12, 2013

Clergy Involved in Rallies Cite Bible, Teachings of Christ as Driving Forces behind Protests

Many of the leaders of the “Moral Monday” and “Witness Wednesday” rallies are clergy members and church leaders. The AP notes that “[w]hile a broader coalition of supporters is building around the ‘Moral Mondays’ started by the state chapter of the NAACP, the inspiration behind the protests is a throwback to the biblical message of civil rights leaders fighting segregation in the Jim Crow era.” They argue that the deep cuts to benefit programs and the raising of taxes on low- and middle-income families violates the teachings of Jesus Christ. The AP notes that there is what it calls “another school of Christian thought followed by many Southern conservatives: The best way to help the poor is through private charity, providing jobs and promoting self-reliance, rather than government programs.” State bishops and church leaders from five major Christian denominations have issued a statement supporting the NAACP’s actions, in preparation for the next “Moral Monday” rally. Robert Daniels, the senior pastor of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, says he chose to engage in civil disobedience and be arrested to let legislators know that, the AP writes, “disproportionately hurting the poor wouldn’t go unnoticed by voters or God.” Daniels says: “I want them to know that justice will win. God will show his hand that he’s for the poor. It’s only a matter of time.” Other denominations have a different approach, according to Southern Methodist University professor Matthew Wilson. Protestants of evangelical or Baptist leanings do not typically support public solutions as much as they do supporting private charities to aid the poor. Most of these denominations have the bulk of their membership in the South. “A lot of studies show that evangelicals give more money to private anti-poverty groups than any others, so they do take very seriously the biblical imperatives to help the poor, but they differ in that they see the biblical imperative to help the poor as being an individual imperative as opposed to a collective social imperative,” Wilson says. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, says Christians are united in wanting prosperity for everyone, but have different approaches for achieving that goal. “Obviously there will always be those who have no concern for the poor at all, and that’s clearly forbidden by Scripture, but usually the differences we have are over unintended consequences,” he says. “And so Democrats and Republicans will disagree on what policy objectives will actually help the poor and what will put into place patterns that will, in the long-term, harm poor people.” NC Republican lawmakers have done little to help poor people or children, but have passed a number of social-behavior laws, including a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriag and new restrictions on abortion. Representative Ruth Samuelson (R) says she believes people who hold similar religious beliefs to herself prefer to give help privately, and publicly demand spending cuts and corporate deregulation. “If we’re spending money on this thing, we’re taking it from somewhere else, but we can’t do it at the cost of the ability of the person paying for the taxes to still have enough to provide for their own families and to create that environment for jobs,” she says. Miguel de la Torre, a professor of social ethics at Iliff School of Theology and an ordained Southern Baptist minister, compares the NAACP’s rallies to the Occupy movement, but with more of a moral element. De la Torre, who has run for elective office in Florida as a Republican, says evangelical Protestantism is tied to the American view of individualism, and that view, he says, misses a clear biblical call to address economic strife. “Having faith without the work of changing the structures is meaningless, which is where I think the NAACP is opposed to the more dominant evangelical view of Christianity,” he says. NC NAACP leader William Barber, a pastor in Goldsboro, says that calls for collective social justice are directly ordained by the Bible, and notes that much of the Bible was written at times and by Jews and early Christians who were the victims of social exploitation. Moreover, he says, Christ focused much of his time and efforts on uplifting the poor. He says: “The problem with [private initiative] is, if you see a kid floating down the river, you can run in and rescue that one child. But if you see a bunch more, you have to go up that river to see who’s throwing them in. If we didn’t apply that moral critique we wouldn’t have hospitals, public schools, universities, Medicaid, Medicare, unemployment [benefits], even labor laws.” (NC protests split on Bible’s message to help poor, Associated Press)

June 17, 2013

Research at 7th Moral Monday Shows 98% of Protesters NC Residents

“Throngs” of demonstrators rally outside the NC legislature for the seventh and latest “Moral Monday” protest. 84 demonstrators are arrested for civil disobedience.

Research Proves NC Residents Almost All of Crowd

Researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill poll the crowd to determine the truth or falsity of recent claims by Governor Pat McCrory (R) and NC GOP chairman Claude Pope that “outsiders” – people who do not live in North Carolina – make up the majority of protesters. Elizabeth Benefield, a professional fundraiser from Raleigh, stands with her 17-year old daughter, a local high school student. She tells a reporter: “I want the legislators who are intending to roll back our rights to hear our voice and know we’re not in favor of it. There’s too much at stake, and justice will always prevail. They can pretend not to listen, but we cannot be silenced.” Benefield and many others hold up signs indicating that they are from North Carolina; some signs tell the holder’s home town or ZIP code. Gray Newman from Mecklenburg County who remembers McCrory’s tenure as mayor of Charlotte, says he believed McCrory would be more moderate if elected. The UNC researchers ask 316 randomly selected participants their ZIP codes, race and age. 311 of the 316 – 98% – are from North Carolina. Most are from the Triangle area, but some are from areas such as Wilmington, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Asheville and Charlotte. The average age of the protesters is 53. 60% are female. The racial breakdown matches closely with the 2010 census findings: 79%, 17% African-American, 6% Hispanic, and the rest Asian, Pacific Islander, Indian or other. Researcher Fred Stutzman says, “We’ve got conclusive evidence here that shows the Moral Monday protests area a home-grown movement.” The makeup of the crowd is “representative” of North Carolina’s population overall, Stutzman says. The Reverend William Barber, the head of the NC NAACP, lauds the diversity of the crowd, and says the protesters reflect the citizenry of the state. He disputes the contention that the protests are led and populated by “outsiders,” saying: “We are outside the influence of [Art] Pope. We are outside the influence of the Koch brothers. We are outside the influence of the Tea Party.”

Protests Gaining Attention among Unaffiliated Voters

Retired IT worker Jennie Deloach of Chapel Hill says: “McCrory and all of those Republicans are voting in lockstep for things that are going to hurt the people of North Carolina” Her main goal in joining the protests, she says, is “getting the word out,” more to less informed voters than to Republican legislators, whom she says do not listen to them or to the people of the state. Duke theater professor Jay O’Berski, one of the protesters arrested, says he has not attended a protest since standing up against the Iraq War, but the “cocktail of meanness” happening in the legislature has impelled him to get active. “It’s starting to branch out,” he says. Holly Jordan, a teacher in Durham, says she chose to be arrested because she is angered by the legislature’s education policies and budgets being proposed. She is aware of Republicans’ characterization of the protesters as “aging hippies” and “outsiders” who consider it “en vogue” to be arrested, and says: “They’re talking about these aged hippies leading this thing. If it’s en vogue, aging hippies aren’t the people to lead a ‘trendy thing.’ This is a wide and broad movement.” Some Democratic lawmakers join the protesters. Representative Paul Luebke (D) says: “Each week, more and more people come from outside the Triangle. It’ll be smaller in other parts of the state, but it’ll b a force in the elections throughout the state.” The protests probably are not changing any minds among his Republican colleagues, Luebke says, but they are securing the attention of unaffiliated voters: “The unaffiliated voters are typically less interested in politics. They need a spark to get them more involved in thinking about policy. These rallies lead those who are less involved in politics to say, ‘What’s going on there in Raleigh?’” Representative Carla Cunningham (D) says: “This is a movement, but it belongs to them. It’s grass roots.” (Since the poll results become public knowledge, Republicans change their accusation to say that “outside influences” and not necessarily “outsiders” are leading the protest movement. They fail to name who or what those influences might be, nor do they advance evidence to support the accusation. WRAL-TV notes that one Washington, DC organization, the Advancement Project, has helped provide organization and media outreach for protesters.) (84 more arrested on ‘Moral Monday’ as protesters decry ‘outsiders’ label, Raleigh News and Observer; More than 80 arrested during 7th Moral Monday, Raleigh News and Observer; Researchers find ‘Moral Monday’ crowd mostly from North Carolina, WRAL-TV, 84 arrested at 7th Moral Monday protest, Carolina Mercury)

June 19, 2013

NC Civitas Organization Profiles Protesters

Coverage of the NC Civitas anti-protester database has moved to its own page.

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