Barber, 16 others released following arrests at General Assembly
Posted April 29, 2013 7:04 p.m. EDT
Updated April 30, 2013 11:21 a.m. EDT
Seventeen people were arrested Monday evening during what the state chapter of the NAACP called a nonviolent "pray in" protest at the General Assembly.
The protest was directed at Republican action on health care, unemployment benefits, education and voting rights.
"We are once again, through putting our bodies on the line, asking them to reconsider their assault on the poor, the unemployed, our many citizens without health care and our embattled public schools and public education," said state NAACP President William Barber, who was among those arrested inside the state Legislative Building. "We're asking them to reconsider and get on the right side of history."
Barber called recent actions of state lawmakers "an avalanche of extremist policies that threaten health care, that threaten education, that threaten the poor."
Among the NAACP's concerns is a bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls, which passed the House last week. Barber has equated the measure to a poll tax.
Protester Nelson Johnson, of Faith Community Church in Greensboro, said the voter ID bill moves North Carolina in the wrong direction.
"We need more, not less, public access to the ballot," he said.
Barber said at a church service Sunday that he takes no pleasure in getting arrested but views protest as a justified action mirroring the fights of the 1960s.
Those arrested each face second-degree trespassing, posting or displaying a placard and failure to disperse on command charges.
Barber and others were released from jail about 4 a.m. Tuesday.