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DA: Do community service to discharge 'Moral Monday' arrests

Posted August 12, 2013

The Wake County District Attorney's office is hoping to avoid trying all 924 people that have been arrested at this year's Moral Monday protests.

Wake DA Colon Willoughby is making those people an offer: Perform 25 hours community service and pay $180 in court costs, and the charges will be dismissed. 

According to Willoughby, it's called "deferred prosecution," and it is no different from how he has dealt with cases of civil disobedience in the past.

"We don't feel this is a crime of moral turpitude," he said, noting that the same offer was made to Occupy Raleigh protesters. 

Arrestees don't have to admit guilt if they fulfill the community service requirement and pay the court costs. After a set amount of time, usually six months, all charges are dismissed.

Several people have already opted to take the bargain. But hundreds are still awaiting their day in court – and that could swamp Wake County's court system. 

Willoughby says he believes deferral is the best way to handle civil disobedience cases.

Colon Willoughby Wake DA offers deferral to Moral Monday protesters

"What I'm trying to do is recoup some of the costs that have been incurred here locally and put something back into the community to make this a better community for all of us," Willoughby said.

The North Carolina Republican Party, however, said it's not happy with the offer. Spokesman Luther Snyder said the punishment is not sufficient, will not cover the costs of the arrests and won't serve as a deterrent for civil disobedience in the future.

If everyone arrested at Moral Monday protests were to agree to the offer, Willoughby said, it would mean about 25,000 hours of community service for Wake County. 

Protester Belinda Black said she thinks her Moral Monday participation was a form of community service. 

"My friends tell me that I was doing community service by being part of the protest, that I was actually doing something for the community," she said. Black has not decided yet whether she'll take the DA up on his offer.

305 Comments

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  • Carrboro Aug 15, 1:56 p.m.

    Looks like the discussion is over or eveyone is out doing their community service.

  • soyousay Aug 14, 4:55 p.m.

    Community service? Let them register voters..

    I want to be a roving poll observer, probably not what Pat had in mind.

  • Carrboro Aug 14, 4:51 p.m.

    jerryroll: I don't know why you thought I was denigrating community service. This has nothing to do with a professional. When someone takes their time to go out into the community and help whether forced or volunteer it's hard to put a price on that. Maybe you are one of these folks who feels they need to be paid for every effort but sometimes you need to give back. I'm not sure what Carrboro success has to do with the discussion since folks from all over the state have participated in Moral Mondays. The success or lack of success of a town has nothing to do with it. It's the individuals who make a difference. Try going to the civitas website to see who is participating county by county.

  • hardycitrus Aug 14, 3:12 p.m.

    Community service? Let them register voters!

  • soyousay Aug 14, 2:31 p.m.

    In addition, it may cause some of them to think twice about throwing trash out of their cars.
    ..

    do you know they were not littering the roads of NC?

  • mrman2a Aug 14, 2:30 p.m.

    A slap on the wrist like I figured.Now they will keep doing it.

  • jerryroll Aug 14, 12:20 p.m.

    Just read this part of the article..."Spokesman Luther Snyder said the punishment is not sufficient, will not cover the costs of the arrests and won't serve as a deterrent for civil disobedience in the future"

    Wow - really Luther? You portray the NC Repubs as a mean spirited , spiteful party - and you want to deter ( punish) people for using their First Amendment Rights in the future??

    Luther - you only reinforce the perception of the Republican Party - rich white men in grey suits who shake their head at a Capital City Club reception while eating shrimp and downing Maker's Mark when the subject of those Moral Monday protesters comes up....Nice job - you set the party back again...hope NC voters have a long memory.

  • kitelover110 Aug 14, 11:21 a.m.

    I support the idea of community service resulting on no criminal record. However, the community service should be in the form of picking up trash along the roads of Wake County - this would benefit all of the county and make it a cleaner place in which to live. In addition, it may cause some of them to think twice about throwing trash out of their cars.

  • booksnsand Aug 14, 9:42 a.m.

    Who's going to make sure that state employees are not going to use their volunteer hours to perform community service (they are paid while performing volunteer services)?

  • wildpig777 Aug 14, 9:39 a.m.

    Willoughby is playing to the democrats. Time to move him on down the road along with Attorney General Cooper. The Demonstrators broke the law and are now trying to play word games.
    davisgw

    surely u jest-- willoby has been playing to the democrats the last 25 yrs-- zactly ho do you think put him in office? does the name jim junt mean anythang to u?

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