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Ninth 'Moral Monday' focuses on unemployment cuts

Posted July 1, 2013
Updated July 2, 2013

— More than 80 people submitted to arrest at this week's so-called "Moral Monday" protests to call attention to the immediate loss of federal unemployment benefits for 70,000 North Carolinians due to the actions of state lawmakers.

Monday marked the ninth rally organized by the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. Nearly 675 people have now been arrested protesting the policies of Gov. Pat McCrory and the Republican-controlled legislature.

Those elected GOP leaders have largely ignored the protests, or derided those who come out to oppose their agenda as "outsiders" and "morons" even as arrest reports show nearly all are from within the state and list occupations that include clergy, doctors, lawyers and teachers.

As the protesters sang hymns before the great golden doors of the state Senate Monday night, legislators entered the chamber through the back to hold their scheduled session and move bills.

North Carolina's Republicans took simultaneous control of the legislature and governor's mansion in January for the first time in more than a century. The current session has been marked by sweeping conservative measures in what has long been counted as among the South's most progressive states.

North Carolina on Sunday became the first state in the nation to disqualify itself from collecting extended unemployment benefits to help repay a debt to the federal government faster. About 70,000 people lost their benefits, with another 100,000 to be cut off in the coming months, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The maximum weekly benefit a laid off worker can receive was also slashed from $535 to $350.

Long-term jobless benefits cutoff Protesters decry long-term jobless benefits cutoff

Wayne Bostic, who attended Monday's demonstration, said the benefit cutoff will threaten the roof over his head.

"It means my check, which is the mortgage check, is not going to be there," he said. "How is a cut in anybody's money going to help a person?"

After nine consecutive weeks of peaceful "Moral Monday" protests, the events have developed something of a routine.

Shortly before 7 p.m., General Assembly police chief Jeff Weaver warned those assembled in the atrium that they were engaging in an "unlawful" protest and subject to arrest if they didn't leave within five minutes.

Those who remained lined up and waited to be arrested by dozens of officers carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs. As the first arrests of the evening began, the crowd launched into a rousing rendition of "This Little Light of Mine," including a chorus of "Even in a jail cell, I'm going to let it shine!"

Among those handcuffed were Mike and Betsey Pedneau, married for 43 years. A Vietnam veteran, Mike retired as the state's director of mental health services. Betsey is a nurse.

Mike Pedneau said the years in cuts to services for people with mental illness and the more recent decision by Republican leaders not to expand Medicaid to hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians to show their displeasure with President Barack Obama was having a devastating impact.

"Not funding Medicaid is criminal," he said. "I'm especially concerned by what is happening to homeless veterans."

Sally Johnson of Burlington, a retired school librarian, stood nearby.

Asked what issue brought her there to be arrested, the 74-year-old woman replied: "There are so many unjust things happening you can't narrow it to just one."

With her was Kristin Frescoln, of Chapel Hill, the former manager of the state's drug treatment courts. She lost her job in 2011 when the legislature largely defunded the program in favor of sending more offenders to prison. She was following in the footsteps of her daughter, a college student arrested at the legislature two weeks ago.

"We have to bring attention to what is happening here," Frescoln said. "It's our obligation in a democracy to speak out."

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  • Bartmeister Jul 3, 2013

    Old news. Refresh please.

  • Proud Liberal Jul 3, 2013

    Lets get something straight, people that are unemployed are looking for a job everyday. The greedy so called Christians republicans do not care about the jobless/ working poor. They main concern is to help out their rich friends.

  • Xscout577 Jul 3, 2013

    Guess it's time for some folks to get out & look for a job. I'm all for unemployment assistance, but not when it becomes your yearly income.

  • Sandbar33 Jul 3, 2013

    "And that needs fixing."

    I must run in different circles than you do. Myself and the large majority of successful people I associate with somehow bucked that trend you speak of....Did it with hard work, smart financing and responsible saving. Did it without having to blame rich people too!

  • junkmail5 Jul 3, 2013

    You apparently have done well salary wise for yourself and I'm pretty sure you didn't complain along the way either.- Sandbar33

    Why would I?

    You are two faced is what you are. You should feel guilty for stealing from your poor friends- Sandbar33

    Nonsense.

    I didn't rig the system. I don't even SUPPORT the rigged system.

    I was just lucky enough to born into a situation to take advantage of the rigged system.

    Most aren't.

    You seem to confuse guaranteed equality of OPPORTUNITY- which is what the nation SHOULD be doing... and guaranteed equality of OUTCOME- which we shouldn't, but you think is what I'm recommending.

    When 90% of the country hasn't improved at all economically in 45 years, but the other 10% has improved MASSIVELY.... and that 10% happens to include those who make all the rules... that's pretty clear evidence the system doesn't offer fair or equal OPPORTUNITY to all.

    And that needs fixing.

  • Sandbar33 Jul 3, 2013

    "Not that I didn't work hard along the way, I did.

    but those advantages were a force multiplier for that hard work, such that friends of mine without those, who have worked just as hard as I did, are currently either out of work entirely or working just-making-the-ends meet type jobs and living paycheck to paycheck because they didn't have those starting advantages.

    As I say, the game is rigged. That's why ALL the economic gains in the last 45 years went to the top 10% of earners.

    Lots of folks work hard, most get little for it."

    Nobody cares about your parents carrying your mail for you. You apparently have done well salary wise for yourself and I'm pretty sure you didn't complain along the way either. You are two faced is what you are. You should feel guilty for stealing from your poor friends and my suggestion would be to divide your Top 10% fortune with those "less fortunate" than you. You owe them

  • junkmail5 Jul 3, 2013

    So Mr. Top 10% why don't you explain how "you" got to where you are. Inherit your money? Steal it from poor people? Work hard for it?

    Big company? Small company?
    Sandbar33

    My parents in large part- providing an excellent education, access to items and facilities and experiences as a kid most didn't have or couldn't afford, a college education at a great school with 0 debt on my part, a free first car, help getting started after school, etc...

    Not that I didn't work hard along the way, I did.

    but those advantages were a force multiplier for that hard work, such that friends of mine without those, who have worked just as hard as I did, are currently either out of work entirely or working just-making-the-ends meet type jobs and living paycheck to paycheck because they didn't have those starting advantages.

    As I say, the game is rigged. That's why ALL the economic gains in the last 45 years went to the top 10% of earners.

    Lots of folks work hard, most get little for it.

  • Sandbar33 Jul 3, 2013

    "Their income has not increased in over 40 years. For NINETY PERCENT OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY."

    So Mr. Top 10% why don't you explain how "you" got to where you are. Inherit your money? Steal it from poor people? Work hard for it?

    Big company? Small company?

  • junkmail5 Jul 3, 2013

    Define going nowhere.- Mep

    Their income has not increased in over 40 years. For NINETY PERCENT OF THE ENTIRE COUNTRY.

    That's going nowhere.

    So our "nowhere" is better than their somewhere- Mep

    So you're happy with the fact we're still marginally better than 3rd world nations?

    Forgive me for having higher goals for the US.

    Seriously, everything was going very well for the average american post WW-2 for a couple decades. Also of note it was the last time we ran federal surpluses for any length of time.

    Then we slashed taxes on rich people, made bankers more important than people who actually produced things, and ever since the very rich have gotten richer, by a lot, and EVERYONE ELSE on average has stood entirely in place, or ended up worse off.

    And you think that's an improvement somehow.

  • junkmail5 Jul 3, 2013

    And most are paying far less than 30% of their housing.- retroconsultant

    Section 8 -requires- you pay 30% of your income toward housing before you get a dime from the government.

    Your lying about how the program works doesn't change how it actually works.

    Why do you insist on misleading us? A neutral definition of Welfare from Webster's is "the organized efforts of government granting aid".- retroconsultant

    Talking about the ACTUAL WELFARE PROGRAM is misleading you- but you using a random dictionary definition instead of the ACTUAL GOVERNMENT PROGRAM isn't?

    By your insanely broad definition social security is welfare.

    The GI bill is welfare by that definition.

    Is that really the argument you want to make?

    When you include all the welfare programs, the number of people on them is over 50 million- retroconsultant

    Ah, yes, apparently you DO want to include all those programs.

    Wow.

    Especially dishonest when it's mostly retired, disabled, and WORKING people on them.

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