State NAACP president in court on legislative protest charges
Posted October 25, 2013
Updated October 28, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The state president of the NAACP was in court Friday, along with about a dozen others who were arrested during the mass “Moral Monday” protests at the General Assembly earlier this year.
After six hours of testimony, the judge announced that the hearing will continue Dec. 3.
The Rev. William Barber was one of more than 900 people arrested during the 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. They were charged with trespassing, failing to disperse and violating Legislative Building rules.
Former Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange, was the first to testify Friday morning. She told the court that the demonstrators did not bother her.
“No, not at all. I sat right there. I was right by the gold doors, two seats away,” she said.
General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver spent most of the day on the stand and said he was concerned that the demonstrators might get out of hand. He testified that the group violated several rules, including congregating and holding signs that were larger than allowed.
Defense attorney Irving Joyner questioned Weaver about the building's rules and how they are enforced, including whether visitors are allowed to pray, sing and chant.
"There is no such rule (forbidding praying, singing and chanting)," Weaver said.
Joyner also questioned the police chief as to why an officer who recorded the protest did not record the entire event. The chief said he was unaware of how much battery life and recording space existed on the camera, so they only recorded bits and pieces of the protest.
Three protesters previously had their hearings. Saladin Muhammad was ordered to pay a $100 fine, but he has appealed the conviction. A judge dismissed charges against a husband and wife, Vicki and Douglas Ryder, who were arrested in May.
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.