Raleigh, N.C. — If last week's protest led by the NAACP, which ended in 17 arrests, did nothing else, it garnered a lot of attention from newspapers and television stations.
State NAACP President William Barber says there will likely be more arrests Monday afternoon as his group pursues "peaceful civil disobedience."
The group plans a 4;45 p.m. news conference at Davie Street Presbyterian Church, 300 E. Davie Street, when those planning to participate in the protest will introduce themselves and explain why they believe the state is "in a moral and constitutional crisis."
The group will then march to the Legislative Building and hold a "pray-in and teach-in" inside to address the "legislature's attacks on civil and human rights" in North Carolina.
The protests are aimed at a set of policies like cuts to social welfare programs and election reforms like requiring voters to show photo identification when they go to the polls.
While 1960s-style activities are almost certain to get attention, one conservative leader is asking television stations and newspapers to look away.
Dallas Woodhouse, the state director of Americans for Prosperity, which backs many of the policies put forward by GOP leaders, likens Barber's announcement to a "political bomb threat."
"Let’s be clear," Woodhouse wrote in an email to reporters. "The NAACP has sent a mass communications message encouraging law-breaking. By definition, sending out mass communications encouraging law breaking could result in many things, including violence. Do they know that everyone they have encouraged to break the law, will stop at 'civil disobedience?'"
In response, Barber said it was Woodhouse who was exaggerating to attract the media spotlight.
"That is all that was, send something real wild out there like that and then try to turn attention, try to grab attention, particularly when you see the light of truth being shown on the bad policies that his organization promotes,” Barber said.
Woodhouse's full email is below:
From: Dallas Woodhouse
Re: NAACP Political Bomb Threat
Below you will find a text message sent out by the NAACP Sunday Night. (My staff monitors these things)
NC NAACP: People of Goodwill will participate in Civil Disobedience on Monday, May 7 at NC Legislature. Will you come support them at 5:30 pm? Info: naacpnc.org
Let’s be clear. The NAACP has sent a mass communications message encouraging law-breaking. By definition, sending out mass communications, encouraging law breaking, could result in many things including violence. Do they know that everyone they have encouraged to break the law, will stop at “civil disobedience”?
Many of you know I was a TV reporter for a decade. In those days, we did not cover bomb threats so not to encourage bomb threats. As we all know, planning this type of event at 5:30, during the news cycle is done to highlight law breaking.
The NAACP is encouraging political bomb threats. Are you going to cover them without noting the purposeful pre-planning and mass call for law-breaking?
I would also ask you to remember that if these folks attempt to block the business of the North Carolina General Assembly, they are not engaging in free speech, but blocking others speech as expressed through elections.
It is not my job to tell you how to cover news events. I would urge you in the name of safety to stop glorifying these events, as it is unwise to treat organized law-breaking, as spontaneous events when they are not.
I would ask you to ask yourselves, your news desks and editors, Are you covering news or helping manufacture it?
Thank you for all you do to report and promote our democracy.
Americans for Prosperity-North Carolina State Director