Cases dropped against some legislative protesters

Posted January 22, 2014

North Carolina General Assembly police officers arrest protesters at the state Legislature building Monday, May 13, 2013.

— Wake County prosecutors are dismissing the cases against protesters arrested at the General Assembly on May 20, according to both the state conference of the NAACP and the Wake County District Attorney's Office.

More than 900 protesters were arrested during weekly protests at the General Assembly last spring and summer. On May 20, 57 individuals were charged with trespassing and related charges. Protesters said they were practicing civil disobedience to push back against a variety of policies they said hurt poor residents of the state.

Over the past several months, some protesters have been convicted, while others have been acquitted or entered deals to have the charges dropped in exchange for community service. However, Wednesday's action seems to be the first time a group of cases was dismissed en masse. 

"We felt like, from our review, the evidence wasn't as strong," said Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby.

Given the time that had passed and the number of those arrested, he said, the testimony of the officers who made the arrests wasn't sufficient to win convictions. Prosecutors have been relying on videos of the so-called "Moral Monday" events and subsequent arrests inside the Legislative Building during the trials. 

"In these particular cases, the video evidence wasn't as strong," Willoughby said of the tape from May 20. 

He said some of those arrested on May 20 had already been convicted or had their charges dropped, although he didn't know how many.

A spokeswoman for the North Carolina Conference of the NAACP said that charges against all of those arrested on May 20 had been dropped but said some people in that group had already made plea agreements. She said the NAACP expected to put out a statement about the dismissals late Wednesday.

Mary Elizabeth Wilson, a prosecutor who works for Willoughby, said only 14 cases were dismissed in court Wednesday. Some were tried and found not guilty on Tuesday. The remaining May 20 cases are scheduled for a future trial dates, but are likely to be dismissed at that time.

Willoughby said cases of others arrested on different dates would still be pursued. He could not say how many of those arrested during the protests were still awaiting trial.

According to Wilson, roughly a third of the cases rising from the Moral Monday protests have been concluded, most of those through plea agreements. 


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  • ALECarolina Jan 24, 2014

    If your argument against tougher background checks to buy a gun is "Why pass a new law, we already have background checks, and criminals will get guns anyway".........then you shouldn't try to impose new Voter ID laws to prevent "voter fraud", because all those criminals will just commit voter fraud anyway........right? SEEN any?

  • ALECarolina Jan 24, 2014

    So, if a group of people don't have the propper (sic) permits to own guns, then they shouldn't be allowed to HAVE guns, right?

    You Constitutional Scholars are willing to amend the sacred tablets to silence the free speech of those who dare to disagree with you, impose voter suppression laws to silence those who disagree with you, and pass theocratic legislation to impose your religious beliefs on those who don't agree with you........but you're the first ones to cry "socialism" and "tyranny" when a law is proposed to prevent deranged folks from gaining access to guns.......because it infringes on your "Constitutional Rights."

    The ALEC Dominionists are chomping at the bit to invent solutions to imaginary problems like non-existent voter fraud, but they balk at solving problems that DO exist.....like the almost daily mass shootings in America by unstable psychopaths who shouldn't be allowed to buy guns.

  • 45ACP Jan 24, 2014

    This group did not have the propper permits to assemble and were told to leave, They did not leave. So, they were arrested for trespass and civil disobedience. Rightly so. Get the permits and protest all you want. Some of you folks need to read the North Carolina General Statutes before you spout off about when, where and how you are allowed to protest.

  • ALECarolina Jan 24, 2014

    The effects of getting your "news" from an opinion/entertainment propaganda bubble is immediately apparent from some of these comments.

    How ironic that the corporate fascists who finance the "grassroots" party named after an event that protested the heavy hand of tyranny by tossing tea into Boston Harbor......now recruit the angry, the frightened, and the misinformed masses to vote against their own best interests, and incite outrage among their willing thrall over the Constitutional right to assemble and protest tyranny by ALEC and the corporations for which they stand!

    And now, a quote from Mr. Serling: "A sickness known as hate.......not a virus, not a microbe, not a germ.....but a sickness nonetheless. Highly contagious, deadly in it's effects. Don't look for it in the Twilight Zone........look for it in the mirror. Look for it before the light goes out altogether."

  • BernsteinIII Jan 24, 2014

    Free Speech, and Assembly are fundamental rights of every American. Any jackwagon that thinks these folks should be prosecuted is essentially believing that their own rights should also be infringed upon. I don't agree with Barber one bit, but like all of us, he has the right to make his views known.

    There is *no* criminal behavior here, only racists and pseudo-conservatives wanting to silence other people for their views.

  • cbuckyoung Jan 24, 2014

    When you fail to hold these criminals responsible for their criminal actions you only embolden them to break the law again.
    William Barber and his minions just needs some baggy clothes and clown noses to really dress them appropriately.
    The irony here is that our excellent General Assembly and governor are finally undoing decades of bad government to fix NC's broken tax system, restart the economy, give teachers the first real pay raise in 10 years, and protect the vote which especially benefits poor, minority people.

  • LastSon1981 Jan 24, 2014

    You people are harsher on people protesting for rights then you are the kid who got off for burning down the green way or the one who had a bomb at school. Go ahead and post this with your replies. That's why I came.

  • Tax Man Jan 23, 2014

    Just a shame that there is not enough solid evidence to get these slackers convicted and making them do some real time - even on misdemeanor charges they could get up to a year in jail - that would make me very happy to see Barber do a year in the Wake County Jail! And then be permanently enjoined from any political actions in NC.

  • musthavecoffee Jan 23, 2014

    View quoted thread

    While I do not agree with those laws mentioned, they aren't against the law. You cannot arrest someone because enough do not like what they do. Ramming Common Core and ObamaCare through would mean Obama should be arrested, according to your logic.

    Don't like the GOP? Vote them out next chance you get. Until then, keep whining and I'll laugh.

  • dollibug Jan 23, 2014

    I have to wonder just WHY these cases were NOT DRAWN out like other cases have been. It is interesting that some have been found *guilty* while others were found *not guilty* and now some cases are being *dismissed*. I guess it boils down to who you know OR NOT.