|'Moral Mondays' gain momentum|
|NAACP-led protests blast N.C. GOP initiatives|
|Published Tuesday, June 4, 2013 3:54 pm|
RALEIGH – The N.C. NAACP’s Moral Monday Rally is gaining momentum after drawing the largest crowd and netting the most arrests to date since the organization started protesting what it calls a regressive leadership in the Republican-led General Assembly.
|ASSOCIATED PRESS/GERRY BROOME|
|Protestors sing outside of the N.C. House and Senate chambers during a demonstration at the Legislative Building in Raleigh on May 6. Police arrested 151 people during a June 4 rally led by the N.C. NAACP as part of its "Moral Mondays" campaign. Protesters are directing their anger at Republican action on Medicaid, unemployment insurance, tax reform, education and voting rights.|
According to Curtis Gatewood, the state NAACP's Historic Thousands on Jones Street coordinator, 151 people were arrested inside the Legislative Building after a rally at Halifax Mall, where state NAACP President the Rev. William Barber and others excited the crowd with remarks and chants.
The estimated number of people at the rally was nearly 3,000, Gatewood said, an estimate much higher than the 1,000 other reports are attributing to police. “I’ve seen churches that can hold a thousand people and there were more people there than that,” he said.
Near the end of the rally, those who were planning to be arrested filed into the Legislative Building, where they were later cuffed with plastic binders.
Some came by way of chartered buses, joining the ranks of many wielding signs and donning buttons and message T-shirts while others gripped umbrellas to shield the beating sun that chased away threatening rain clouds. Pre-rally music pumped through the speakers, with one gospel refrain asking, “Do you want a revolution?”
There were many spiritual references made throughout the rally, outlining standards by which we would be judged such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and being our brother’s keeper.
“The Bible says woe unto those that legislate evil and pass laws that rob the poor of their right,” said Barber, who is also a minister.
Yara Allen told the crowd “this General Assembly is trying to take North Carolina backwards, but we came to take back North Carolina. I had the audacity to believe in hope - an audacity that the power of the people is greater than the people in power.”
Instead of a forward agenda, the Republican super majority has turned a deaf ear to a more noble cause and closed their eyes to the history of the south that we have already fought and won, Barber said.
The NAACP is particularly opposed to the General Assembly’s drive to change ballot access. This leadership wants to roll back early voting, ban Sunday voting, end same-day registration and impose an unneeded poll tax disguised as voter ID that will affect thousands of North Carolinians and cost the state millions, Barber said.
Also under proposed legislation, felons, after having paid their debt to society, would have to wait five years to vote and even then apply to the local elections board for unanimous approval. And if a student votes in the county in which they attend college as opposed to where they live, their parents would be charged a poll tax of $2,500, Barber said.
“That’s extreme. That’s immoral …that’s regressive politics. And we must stand up and wake up right here and right now,” he said.
The NAACP and its supporters also question this legislature’s decisions to cut taxes on corporations and raise sales taxes; to defund education yet save $700 million for their “friends” in tax cuts; and to refuse millions of federal dollars from Medicaid.
“Something is wrong when you love money that much. Something is wrong when you hate your brother that much. Something is wrong when you’re that drunk with power,” Barber said.
“It is very immoral what is happening,” said George Gresham, 1199 Service Employees International Union president. “People so often try to say that they don’t believe in welfare. But that’s what’s happening. The problem is that the welfare is happening at the top not at the bottom.”
The majority of those arrested were white supporters, which also made up the majority of the rally attendees.
“No one is coming up here for fun,” Barber said. “No one likes being resisted with handcuffs. But we believe we have a constitutional right to instruct our legislators and we are doing it publicly.”
The NAACP leader shared that someone from the media asked him, “When will you stop?”
“That’s a question for them,” he responded. “Don’t ask us when we will stop. Ask when will they stop hurting children? When will they stop hurting the sick? When will they stop hurting our public schools? Because when they stop, we’ll stop.”
|Excellent reporting by Kim Harrington- I was there and it was a very emotional and impressive crowd|
|Posted on June 5, 2013|
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