Charges dismissed against couple in legislative protest

Posted October 11, 2013
Updated October 25, 2013

— A Wake County District Court judge on Friday dismissed charges against a husband and wife arrested in May during one of the weekly protests at the state Legislative Building.

Vicki and Douglas Ryder were among more than 900 people arrested during the so-called "Moral Monday" demonstrations against the legislative agenda of the Republican-controlled General Assembly. The protesters said lawmakers were hurting the poor, the unemployed, students and other groups through their actions.

"We have shown that we can express our concerns and not be arrested for doing that," Vicki Ryder said after the daylong trial.

Protesters would usually gather at a nearby church and march to the Legislative Building, where they would sing and chant and sometimes refuse to leave when asked by the General Assembly Police. Those arrested were charged with trespassing, failure to disperse and violating Legislative Building rules.

Charges against some protesters were dropped after they agreed to perform community service under a deal offered by Wake County prosecutors to clear cases from the clogged court dockets. The Ryders are the first to take their cases to trial and win.

A week ago, the first Moral Monday case that was tried ended in a conviction. Saladin Muhammad was ordered to pay a $100 fine, but he has appealed the conviction.

'Moral Monday' protest arrest 'Moral Monday' protester trials move slowly through courts

"I can't account for the vicissitudes of the court. I just hope that, for future cases, charges will be dismissed," Vicki Ryder said.

The Ryders and Muammad were arrested on different days, and an attorney for one of the protesters awaiting trial said that may have played a role in Judge Joy Hamilton issuing different rulings.

About 30 other protesters were in court Friday awaiting their trials, but because the Ryders' case took all day, those trials were rescheduled for Oct. 28.

"I've had to come three times so far, and it's four hours each way," protester Leslie Boyd said. "It's exhausting, and I'd like to know what the outcome is going to be."

Still, Boyd and other protesters said they will stick it out to make their voices heard.

"Civil disobedience is an important part of democracy," protester Tara Bloomquist said.


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  • Vote for Pedro Oct 14, 2013

    Since no reasonable person could have thought a riot or disorderly conduct was occuring, Chief Weaver's order to disperse was unlawful, the protestors did not have to obey it, and the arrests were illegal.

    Which is why you are also upset by the arrest and prosecution of the moral Monday folk's, right?

  • free2bme Oct 14, 2013

    These people should have never been arrested. What they are doing is not illegal? It does involve judgment on the police part and we know judgement can be biased? I feel the police should be concentrating on arresting the people robbing, killing, and those breaking parole. It seems that much of the killing and robbing being done are by those that should be behind bars already.

  • Vote for Pedro Oct 14, 2013

    But live within the rules or you are just part of the problem. Tax Man

    Like people who, say break down barricades and enter an are temporarily closed and defying police orders. You mean like that?

  • Combat MP Oct 14, 2013

    This couple and many more will be clogging up the GA when they come back in session. This isn't the end, but the beginning of ending government & police suppression of the people. The people are not going to let the rich rule much longer. After 5 years of terrible economy something is going to give, and them with money are the only ones who have it to give. I see people who don't break a sweat have plenty. Time for the rest of us to get our share.

    I love this comment. This is a prime example of the mindset of the libs that voted in Oblama. Even though I haven't worked for it and earned it I am entitled to it. I guess it's OK for me to go out and do what I want because I think I am entitled to it. Just as the protestors violated the law, they may think because I am doing it for what I want, then the law doesn't apply to me. This mindset smells of the French Revolution. When will we start dragging the wealth into the streets and cutting their heads?

  • Tax Man Oct 12, 2013

    Viking - I agree these people are wasting our resources, but it is not the police (they are just doing their jobs) but the protesters who have clearly defined rules they are supposed to follow that give them all of their 1st Amendment rights. When they choose to become criminals and break those laws they need to be treated as criminals and arrested, charged, convicted and serve their punishment. Why do these fools have to keep breaking the rules? Why cannot they sit out on the sidewalk and do their protest without disrupting the legitimate business of our elected officials? If they don't like the elected officials they can vote them out or organize a recall. But live within the rules or you are just part of the problem. These immoral monday goons are a major part of the problem.

  • theblazer Oct 12, 2013

    Moral Monday patriots, I salute you! Thank you for taking the time and the risk to help show our nation exactly what is going on in North Carolina since the GOP has taken over our once progressive, business friendly, education friendly, and mother friendly state. All that is the past.....until the next election.

    Patriots? What disrespect. I find it offensive that you label a bunch of whiny protestors that. Unless you want to start saying "Socialist/Progressive/Marxist Patriot" - like Che, Mao, and Lenin, then that will clarify everything. I don't want readers thinking you meant Patriots like Washington, Jefferson, and Henry.

  • peedoffpopo Oct 12, 2013

    To conduct a protest at the capital, you must have a permit. That is a fact of life. Your rights are not violated as protesting will be allowed. The government and law enforcement must be prepared to handle such protest. That is just a fact of life.
    It is discouraging, but with the permit, any peaceful demonstration should be allowed.

  • showerton Oct 12, 2013

    Some commenters seem to think that we live in a police state where people have to obey any police command, legal or not. However, in this non-police state, orders have to follow the law. In this case, to issue a lawful order to disperse Chief Weaver had to reasonably believe that a riot or disorderly conduct was occuring. That requirement is clearly stated right there in the statute. Since no reasonable person could have thought a riot or disorderly conduct was occuring, Chief Weaver's order to disperse was unlawful, the protestors did not have to obey it, and the arrests were illegal.

  • showerton Oct 11, 2013

    They were not committing any crimes. They were exercising their constitutional rights to express their opinions and "instruct their representatives." Nothing and no one was harmed except the feelings of the GOP leaders who had them arrested. When Democrats were in charge, they did not have conservative protestors arrested, not even when they entered the gallery and threw tea bags on the legislators. These cases are without precedent because until the Tea Party took over the N.C. government, the legislators respected the right of people to protest or, at least, had the good sense to know that arrests would just result in more publicity for the protestors' cause and make the legislators look like the intolerant, unAmerican tyrants that this present group of Republicans is.

  • rdcress Oct 11, 2013

    These people deserve a punishment fitting the crimes. I'm all for voicing one's concerns but these people broke the laws. So what they are saying and many of the comments is that it's ok to violate the law and demand a cut of other peoples money but when someone stands up in a legitimate and legal protest demanding nothing more than to keep what is theirs to start with they are hypocrites, cronies, and destroyers of society. I'm sick of these types demanding what doesn't belong to them and then moaning and groaning and demanding little or no punishment. I say prosecute them to the fullest. If Cooper and Hagan can ask for the state to be sued, then law abiding citizens have the right to ask for full prosecution of law breakers demanding a cut of our income.