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Wednesday protest at legislature ends in handful of arrests

Posted June 12, 2013

— After weeks of Monday protests in which dozens of people were arrested at the General Assembly, a Wednesday afternoon protest ended with only eight people taken away by police.

The "Witness Wednesday" event coincided with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of NAACP activist Medgar Evers outside his Jackson, Miss., home.

The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP led the protest, which included the same criticism of Republican-backed legislation, from slashing unemployment benefits to using state money to provide vouchers for some students to attend private schools, that has marked the weekly "Moral Monday" protests.

"The Holy Scriptures declare that, when we stand for righteousness, when we heed the call to do what is right, we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses of those who died – or suffered and died – who have gone on but now sit in glory, and they cheer us on," said Rev. William Barber, state NAACP president.

"It is the great witness of those who died before us and who fought before us that is the ultimate critique on the immoral and extreme legislation coming out of this General Assembly and out of the Governor's Office," Barber said. "When you attack poor people, when you attack voting rights, when you attack the most vulnerable, that's wrong. Their blood speaks."

Witness Wednesday protest Legislative protest shifts days, ends with same result

MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina AFL-CIO, said the "list of injustices" that lawmakers have produced this year is long, but the cuts to unemployment benefits was the most "callous and cruel."

Thousands of residents statewide will lose their extended jobless benefits on July 1 because of the overhaul to North Carolina's unemployment system.

"The reason that 170,000 families will lose their lifeline is that our governor and this legislature had no compassion at all for the unemployed," McMillan said, leading the crowd to chant "shame, shame, shame."

After about 40 minutes of speeches, about 80 people marched into the General Assembly, singing and clapping, and they scoffed at Republican claims that the protests are packed with people from outside of North Carolina.

"The outsider seems to be the legislator who does not understand what the people of North Carolina are standing up and demonstrating for," said Donald Matthews, a protester from Raleigh.

House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger both declined to comment on the protest.

Durham City Councilman Steve Schewel was among the eight arrested. "I'm proud to be here, proud to be with this group of people," Schewel said before he was led off.

Rocky Mount City Councilman Andre Knight, Guilford County Commissioner Carolyn Coleman and NAACP branch presidents from Rocky Mount, Wayne County, Northampton County and Randolph County also were arrested.

All were charged with violation of the building rules, failure to disperse, and trespassing, according to General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver.

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  • goldenosprey Jun 13, 2013

    Junkmail, you mean Costco employees are too well off to qualify for food stamps, free school lunches and medicaid, whereas Sam's employees wring us for freebies without end?

    Those... those... socialists!

  • Ripcord Jun 13, 2013

    "Rather than the kind SAMs pays."

    Then don't shop at Sams.

  • junkmail5 Jun 13, 2013

    To add to that- AVERAGE pay (not just starting) at Costco is 42% higher than SAMs.

    Further, unlike SAMs, the employees get an excellent health plan too.

    Besides the economic benefits I already mentioned it also leads to very low turnover and very little employee theft too.

  • junkmail5 Jun 13, 2013

    Define "living wage".
    Ripcord

    The kind Costco pays.

    Rather than the kind SAMs pays.

    For the same jobs. In the same business.

    For example-

    Costco employees generally earn enough that they're not qualified for food stamps.

    SAMs/Walmart employees- not so much (rank and file anyway)

    MINIMUM starting pay at Costco is $11.50 an hour for even the lowest jobs.

    Min starting wage at SAMs? $7.25. And it's only THAT high because it's illegal to pay them less.

    That's $14,500 a year versus $23,000 a year.

    When companies pay a living wage, workers benefit.

    When workers make more money, they spend more money.

    When people spend more money, the economy is stronger.

    When the economy is stronger, the nation as a whole benefits.

    Henry Ford knew this- In the days of sweatshops he insisted on paying his workers a living wage. He knew if your own employees can't afford to buy what they're making you were in trouble.

  • Ripcord Jun 13, 2013

    "So to suggest you simply CAN'T pay a living wage for even fairly basic jobs .."

    Define "living wage".

  • randall0123a Jun 13, 2013

    [it’s funny how you averted a clear fact of how raising wages for lower-educated position will increase production costs.- randall0123a] - They only have to if the rich want to maintain their insanely high profits. – jumkmail5

    Thanks for pointing out the obvious. Now if you want to tangent to reducing the greed of the ultra-rich, then have it and I will applaud you. But, while you focus on the 1%, I’ll stick to something closer to my financial neighborhood at 6-figures and under. Continuing with the obvious; on average your higher education jobs yield larger salaries. Jobs requiring higher education require advanced knowledge of subject matter, hence better compensation. People aspire to progress to higher positions if they have initiative. If a person doesn't like janitor wages, invoke self-improvement to attain a higher position. But, for those of us that sacrificed for the little we have, don’t expect any support for a lower wage increase just because they feel deserving.

  • randall0123a Jun 13, 2013

    Is it now?Then why are you singing the AFP/ALEC tune note for note?Those are the guys who are the opposite of sickened by it, they perpetuate and increase it. You call me polarized, but you are saying two things that are mutually exclusive.There are many profitable companies here and abroad, like Costco, that attract and maintain a quality workforce by paying quality wages. Try clipping those contradictory wings. – goldenosprey

    You do realize that a political party has more than one agenda and takes a stance on multiple policies? My comments on individuals that would rather have a big govt and taxpayers provide for what they will not provide for themselves is one (singular) issue. Am I losing you? If you want to drag someone down into your polarized world of left / right, republican / democrat, then go hang out at the legislative bdg and you can sing your song with them. If you happen to agree with ALL policies by your chosen party, then you have found yourself in a unique position.

  • junkmail5 Jun 13, 2013

    it’s funny how you averted a clear fact of how raising wages for lower-educated position will increase production costs.- randall0123a

    they don't have to though.

    They only have to if the rich want to maintain their insanely high profits.

    Compare Costco and SAMs club.

    Both have a similar business. With similar consumer pricing.

    Costco pays a real living wage to their employees.

    SAMs club doesn't.

    Guess where that extra money SAMs isn't spending goes? The pockets of the richest americans by and large.

    So to suggest you simply CAN'T pay a living wage for even fairly basic jobs without jacking up prices is simply, and provably, false.

    it's that you can't do it AND jack your CEO/BODs income 300% decade over decade.

  • goldenosprey Jun 13, 2013

    "Obviously the imbalance in wealth distribution in the country is sickening."randall0123a

    Is it now? Then why are you singing the AFP/ALEC tune note for note? Those are the guys who are the opposite of sickened by it, they perpetuate and increase it. You call me polarized, but you are saying two things that are mutually exclusive.

    There are many profitable companies here and abroad, like Costco, that attract and maintain a quality workforce by paying quality wages. Try clipping those contradictory wings.

  • junkmail5 Jun 13, 2013

    Another of your Biased Democratic funded organizations. Liars figure and figures lie.
    DoingMyBest

    If you think the figures aren't accurate, by ALL means tell us specifically where and how the math is wrong.

    You can't, because it's not wrong.

    Instead of addressing the facts you simply dismiss the source of em. That's easier than thinking.

    total number of people on welfare in the ENTIRE country- 4.3 million. And 3/4 of THOSE are children. - junkmail5

    And how many of the parents of these children decided to do some reckless breeding without any consideration of financial planning or responsibility?-randall0123a

    Let's say it's 100% (though it's certainly less)

    That's still only about 1 million people.

    In a nation of over 300 million.

    So again the notion there's millions of em in every state is simply a factual untruth.

    Further- you're limited to 5 years IN YOUR ENTIRE LIFE on welfare.

    So the notion they're on it for life is also false.

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