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Police: 73 arrested at latest NC legislative protest

Posted July 22, 2013
Updated July 23, 2013

— More than 70 protesters were taken to jail during the weekly Moral Monday protests at the North Carolina General Assembly, bringing the total number arrested in the legislative session to 925.

In a change from past weeks, state House leaders moved their Monday night session to 4 p.m., three hours earlier than usual. That left the protesters massing shortly before 7 p.m. in the atrium outside the legislative chambers, singing and chanting in a largely empty building.

Though the schedule change had been announced last week, North Carolina NAACP President Rev. William Barber accused the Republican majority of trying to duck the protesters.

"You can run, but you can hide," Barber chided lawmakers in addressing the crowd. "When we come here and they are here, they want to drag us out. Then when they knew the national TV was on them, they tucked their tails and ran."

General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver made no move to arrest anyone until about 7:15 p.m., after Barber told protesters to sit on the floor and signal that they were ready to stay "as long as necessary." At that point, Weaver used a bull horn to declare that the building was closed and gave people five minutes to disperse.

He said a total of 73 people were arrested Monday night, including Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Association of Educators. 

Moral Monday, July 22 'Moral Monday' protesters take on voting rights, education

"I'm willing to be arrested for 95,000 teachers in North Carolina who have had their profession disrespected and dismantled," Ellis said. "We can not and will not be silenced."

Ellis' arrest came hours after the teachers group announced its plans to try to block key provisions of the $20.6 billion budget proposal released Sunday night. 

Unlike earlier proposals, the budget provides no raises for teachers. But the NCAE is most upset with the $20 million set aside over the next two years for "opportunity scholarships" to allow low-income public school students move to private schools and the elimination of "career status," or tenure rights, for veteran teachers.

Fourth-grade teacher Kristin Beller, who attended Monday's protest, said she works a second job just to make ends meet.

"A teacher who is frazzled and feels overworked and underpaid and under-appreciated – teacher working conditions are student learning conditions," Beller said. 

There are no hours of operation posted on the doors of the legislative building, which typically remains open to the public whenever legislators and staff members are working. When the legislature is out of session, the doors are typically locked sometime after 5 p.m.

Because neither the House nor Senate was in session Monday night, there were no official proceedings to disrupt by making noise. Weaver said those arrested would be charged with failure to disperse and second-degree trespassing, both misdemeanors.

Those waiting patiently in line to be handcuffed included a man wearing full colonial-era garb as well as an aging Korean War veteran who walked with the assistance of a wooden cane.

Monday's protests were intended to call attention to a slew of changes to voting rules expected to be approved by the GOP majority later this week. Those include provisions requiring voters to present state-issued photo ID at the polls, curtailing early voting days and a measure that would force parents of college students to pay more in taxes if their children vote in the communities where they go to school. Critics said all are designed to keep groups more likely to cast their ballots for Democrats from voting.

This was the 12th straight week of Moral Monday protests, which began in May with a few hundred people. The protests have since grown, drawing a couple of thousand each week.

Republicans took over the General Assembly in 2010 for the first time in more than a century, but did not cement full control of state government until GOP Gov. Pat McCrory took office in January.

236 Comments

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  • TruthBKnown Banned Again03 Jul 23, 7:35 p.m.

    Absolutely right, ttomalee. This is getting VERY old.

    They're only protesting to try to help their democrats in the next election. The GOP could pass a law that gives $50K to every poor person in the state and they would protest because it wasn't $60K.

  • ttomalee Jul 23, 7:10 p.m.

    Please let the people do what they were VOTED in to do. This is getting very old and is doing nothing but holding back the will of the majority.
    Go away.

  • pinball wizard Jul 23, 7:04 p.m.

    Irs86, please read. I did not call her or equate her to a klan member. I merely used that as an example for honest telling the truth in reporting.

    And rest assured, because of my involvement, I am more than fully aware of what goes on in the school system.

  • tarheelfan41 Jul 23, 7:04 p.m.

    Raise the amount of the fines and our budget problems are fixed! It would be nice if the number arrested was quadrupled! I wish they would protest everyday. Make it its own little cottage industry. Eagles football stadium has its own little jail on site. Save the trouble of hauling their rumps to jail. Come on guys, maximize your profits here!

  • RKBA Jul 23, 6:36 p.m.

    "I would expect a TRUE LEADER to be arrested every Monday. "

    Me too. Especially if they threw away the key.

    Keep in mind this gentleman is spending OUR tax dollars pulling this self aggrandizement

  • North Carolina Home Jul 23, 5:56 p.m.

    lrs86, SHE made herself a public figure open to scrutiny.

    If she is being portrayed as something other than a NCAE organizer she has the opportunity to defend herself.

    Bottom line, she was not there as "just a teacher" with a part time job.

  • bombayrunner Jul 23, 5:55 p.m.

    Ok, your points are heard, and the answer is still NO !!!!!!!!

  • bombayrunner Jul 23, 5:53 p.m.

    YOU LOST THE ELECTIONS -- GO AWAY.

  • bombayrunner Jul 23, 5:53 p.m.

    enough already ... keep them locked up.

  • lrs86 Jul 23, 5:44 p.m.

    raleigh-durham and pinball wizard:

    How dare you drag this person through the mud for defending her profession, and advocating for herself, her peers, and her STUDENTS.

    I doubt that either of you personally know the teacher that you are so confidently arguing about. Have you set foot in her classroom? Have you seen the stress that she faces when she walks into her 2nd job, still concerned with the challenges she faced at her first? Do you know her well enough to be aware that she is one of the most selfless people out there, and EVERYTHING she does is for the betterment of her community, particularly the next generation?

    She more than likely joined NCAE in an effort to advocate for the average teacher, not just to boost a check. NCAE is opinionated, but "a Klan member?" Uncalled for. While you may disagree with her stance on the actions made by our government, you have to respect her. I would rather respect someone than always agree with them.

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