Raleigh, N.C. — Ten people, including state NAACP President Rev. William Barber, were arrested Wednesday at the Legislative Building in the latest protest of the General Assembly's agenda.
Dozens of people in the "Moral Monday" movement converged on the legislature to demonstrate against changes to North Carolina's elections laws that were passed two years ago.
“We sent a letter yesterday to Gov. (Pat) McCrory and the legislature, calling on them to repeal voter suppression law H.B. 589 on the basis that it discriminates based on race, with a disparate impact on African-Americans, women and students,” Barber told the crowd. “They could have done it today, but instead they chose to focus on passing laws that make it easier to get a gun than it is to vote.”
The House gave final approval Wednesday to a measure that loosens state restrictions on carrying a concealed weapon. The Senate hasn't yet taken up the bill.
The NAACP and other groups have challenged the elections law changes, and a federal trial is set to begin next month in Winston-Salem.
“Voting is the most important right because it ensures that we maintain our other rights,” Anna Fesmire, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Piedmont Triad, told the crowd. "With voter suppression, democracy withers. In North Carolina. It began to wither in earnest in 2013 with the passage of H.B. 589."
The legislative protests have been going on since 2013, although this year's demonstrations have been smaller than in years past and have resulted in far fewer arrests.