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Barber once again leads protest at General Assembly

Posted May 29, 2018 6:18 p.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:50 p.m. EDT

— Former state NAACP leader Rev. William Barber, who gained national prominence by his weekly "Moral Monday" protests against the Republican-led legislature that led to hundreds of arrests, was back at the General Assembly on Tuesday to lead another demonstration.

The Poor People's Campaign, the nationwide effort Barber now leads that is fashioned on a movement created 50 years ago by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., was in Raleigh for the third of six weeks of demonstrations. Tuesday's focus was on gun violence and the military.

"You can't wrap yourself in the flag on Memorial Day and say you love veterans on Memorial Day and then pass laws that hurt veterans the next day," Barber told a crowd of protesters on Bicentennial Plaza.

The government spends too much money waging war and not enough on veterans and services to support them, he said.

Barber then led the group across the street to the Legislative Building, where a police officer told him he wasn't allowed to enter because of his trespassing arrests during Moral Monday protests. Barber then led the crowd over to the Legislative Office Building, where the House and Senate finance committees were reviewing the proposed $24.9 billion state budget.

Protesters complained lawmakers were ignoring the needs of low-income North Carolinians in the budget, including veterans who could benefit from expanding Medicaid or raising the minimum wage.

"Almost 80 percent of North Carolinians want a raise in the minimum wage. That ain't just black folk," Barber said. "There are 62 million working poor people in this country who work every day and make less than a living wage."

The protesters chanted and sang outside the room where lawmakers were meeting, and a dozen were eventually arrested.