Over 1,600 protesters swarmed the legislative chambers in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina to voice opposition to a barrage of laws conservative lawmakers have proposed that would scale back benefits to low-income households and people of color. Over 150 people were arrested yesterday in the NAACP-led protests, which have been dubbed “Moral Monday.”
“They [NC General Assembly] are making it harder for the poor and working poor, and those who are sick, to get health care; for children to get an education; for the incarcerated to be redeemed; for people to vote,” said North Carolina NAACP President Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II. “But they are making it easier for the wealthy to get wealthier; for the sick to get sicker; for private schools to flourish; to implement the flawed death penalty and to get guns.”
The protests began in April when college students and clergy gathered in state legislative offices to pray and demonstrate. Back then, Barber said he hoped to prevent North Carolina governor Gov. Pat McCrory from becoming a “21st century George Wallace” by allowing the burdensome legislation – including a strict photo voter ID law and a felony disenfranchisment law – to pass. Over 300 peole have been arrested since then, including local mayors and elected officials.
Republican lawmakers mocked the protesters in the press – Rep. John Blust, who represents Greensboro where civil rights demonstrations against segregations were launched in the 1950s, said he saw the dissenters like “Carolina playing at Duke,” he told the Raleigh News & Observer. “I’m not going to let the Cameron Crazies throw me off my game.”