'Moral Monday' protests returning to legislature next week

Posted May 14, 2014

— Leaders of a protest movement that led to nearly 1,000 arrests at the General Assembly last year announced Wednesday that they will hold their first rally of the 2014 legislative session next Monday.

Led by the NAACP, the "Moral Monday" movement tapped an undercurrent of dissatisfaction with the Republican-led General Assembly. Riffing on Gov. Pat McCrory's theme of a "Carolina comeback" to describe his economic policies, state NAACP president Rev. William Barber said during a Wednesday news conference that the priorities of McCrory and the Republican legislative leadership continue to produce a "Carolina setback" and need to be changed.

"Our goal is to engage public policy with a moral narrative that puts a face on the policies," Barber said. "The myth of extremism is that they can hurt a small subset of people without hurting all of us.”

According to a letter Barber sent to the governor and lawmakers, protesters plan to hold "a love feast" similar to a Passover seder to symbolize how they are working together to defeat the injustices they see. Legislators and McCrory were invited to participate in the meal.

Although the causes for which protesters turned out last year varied, voting rights and the state's refusal to expand its Medicaid health insurance program for the poor were top of mind for many.

Legislative cuts to education spending and low teacher pay were also at the top of the list. North Carolina Association of Educators President Rodney Ellis called it "a turning point" for the state. 

"Public education is the gateway to full participation in this democratic society," Ellis told the crowd. "Public education is a social justice issue. Treating teachers and all school employees fairly is a social justice issue. The right to a sound basic education is not only a constitutional right, it is a moral right. And protecting those rights for our students in North Carolina is a social justice issue." 

Last year's weekly protests followed a pattern in which hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of protesters would gather on the grassy mall behind the legislative building late on Monday afternoons. Then, as lawmakers convened their Monday evening sessions, some of those protesters would move into the building. Some would sit outside the massive chamber doors on the second floor of the building and hold forth on their grievances. Sometimes there would be songs, other times speeches.

General Assembly police, with help from the Raleigh Police Department, would then arrest those protesters who refused to leave.

Since the end of the 2013 General Assembly session, some protesters have been convicted of minor charges, while others have seen their cases dismissed for a variety of reasons.

Barber likened the movement to the Civil Rights movement across the South in the 1960s. 

"People said when they started, they were foolish. They would never be able to change the dynamics of Birmingham, (Ala.)," he said. "Don’t try to understand the movement winning and losing by what happens in the immediate. Understand this is a prolonged campaign."


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  • "Screen Name-8/20" May 19, 2014

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    When are you running for office? I'd vote for you in support of everything but #3. Unless Voter ID is required, there's no way to ensure the person voting is the person they say they are, and that robs of any person they're impersonating of THEIR Constitutional right to a vote in that election.

    But seriously, on all the other points you stated, you'd have my vote for sure.

  • PanthersFan45 May 15, 2014

    More whining from those who want something given to them at the expense of others. I don't think the state has turn conservative over night after 100 years of democratic leadership, but what I do think is true is that most mainstream voters got tired of a party rule that just wasn't working. Of course those on the left won't understand the independant voters way of thinking. Only that they are NEVER wrong (in their eyes). I call it tunnel vision.

  • Jenna Watkins May 15, 2014
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    I am going. I am wearing my t-shirt with a TEA party emblem. See Y'all there.

  • goldenosprey May 15, 2014

    I have much positive action to suggest:

    1) We raise minimum wage to $10.10 and hour so those who work fulltime may support themselves
    2) We expand medicaid and cease the pointless war on the ACA
    3) we restore constitutional voting rights
    4) we fill vacancies at DENR and enact legislation to force Duke to clean up their mess without passing the costs to consumers
    5) we pay teachers and state workers salaries comparable to the the median in the US
    6) we allow free speech at the Peoples Legislature
    7) we allow unions to have as much influence in this state as we currently allow low wage employers 8) we respect if not enshrine a woman's right to privacy and to control her own body 9) we implement a progressive tax system that does not penalize working families 10) respect science and "legalize" sea level changes This is a start

  • LuvsThePack May 15, 2014

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    I thought Obama closed Gitmo like he promised he would? Oh, wait...

  • WRAL_USER May 15, 2014

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    The way forward is to eradicate the GOP in NC. Positive enough for you?

  • disgusted2010 May 15, 2014

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    I hear your rant, but what constructive solutions do you propose? What, nothing positive to suggest, must be a liberal.

  • Linzie Washington May 15, 2014
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    A huge waste of money, time and effort to embarrass themselves with this ridiculous political show.

  • WRAL_USER May 15, 2014

    The GOP is a criminal (terrorist?) organization and should be incarcerated in Gitmo for the rest of their natural lives along with the sympathizers that voted for them. If you have committed this crime... watch out...

  • WRAL_USER May 15, 2014

    Bigger than ever I might add.
    The GOP is done in NC and they can tuck their tails between their legs and take their sympathizers with them.

    BYE BYE GOP...!!!