It seems the Republican lawmakers behind North Carolina’s conservative statehouse agenda should get used to seeing the faces of protestors both at work at the statehouse and in their home districts. Leaders of the progressive protest movement in North Carolina announced they will step up their recent campaign of civil disobedience and arrests with “Moral Monday” protests at the statehouse through to the conclusion of the legislative session.
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber (pictured), leader of the North Carolina NAACP, announced that protests will also go on the road to 25 counties around the state to the districts of Republican lawmakers who are supporting new laws to weaken voting rights, cut the payroll tax credit for workers, and cut funding to state universities.
“These lawmakers are willing to meet with corporation leaders, they are willing to meet with Tea Party representatives, but they won’t meet with people who are losing their health insurance,” Barber said. “We want them to look in to the eyes of the people who are having their benefits cut and explain to them how this is good public policy.”
Barber told NewsOne the first “Moral Monday” protest was actually earlier this month when 30 people – including an 83-year-old grandmother – were arrested at the statehouse after planned acts of civil disobedience.
Barber said Monday was selected as the day of protest because that is the day the legislature unveils proposed legislation. And of late, many working class and poor people haven’t liked what they have been seeing.
“It seems that every Monday we are seeing something more and more extreme from the General Assembly. Now they want to raise sales taxes on food. It is an abuse of power.”
Al McSurely, a longtime civil rights lawyer and organizer of the protest movement, said current action mirrors what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. attempted to build on with his “poor people’s campaign” that stretched across racial, ethnic, and religious lines.
“The right wing is trying to say this is a Black movement, but when you see who is willing to get arrested for this cause, it’s White, Black, Latino, young and old,” McSurely said. “We can create a whole new South with this movement.”
Barber said the protests will rely not only on acts of civil disobedience and arrests but legal challenges to the lawmakers, spreading word of progress in the social media and grassroots organizing through the state.
The impacts of the protests, however, could be felt far beyond North Carolina’s borders.
“The statehouses in the South are where the most conservative legislative proposals are being developed so what they are trying to do in North Carolina has national implications,” Barber said. “They ran on an agenda of creating jobs but once they get in office, it all changes.”