Progressive protests against a wave of conservative legislation in the North Carolina State House show little sign of weakening at the one month milestone. Case in point, Monday evening, more than 600 supporters gathered out the General Assembly in Raleigh as 60 demonstrators were arrested, after pre-planned acts of civil disobedience.
The arrests were part of the “Moral Monday” series of protests that include civil rights advocates, students, clergy and other progressives fighting a new legislative agenda put forward by statehouse Republicans that they say weakens access to health care, restricts voting rights, restores the death penalty and takes away some funding for the state university system.
“This leadership wants to make our state a place of deeper stratification and inequality,” said Rev. William Barber II (pictured), president of the North Carolina NAACP. “Here in North Carolina we are seeing a fast march backward toward as much unequal treatment as people will allow.”
It seems the wide ranging nature of the conservative proposals at the statehouse are giving additional vigor to the protest: so many areas are under attack from the Republican lawmakers that many everyday citizens are finding something to get angry about.
Students opposed to drastic cuts to the state educational system are standing side-by-side with civil rights advocates upset with proposals designed to make it more difficult to vote by eliminating same-day voter registration and some early voting rules.
Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove, associate minister of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Durham, said he was arrested Monday protesting the legislature’s move to end the Racial Justice Act of 2009, which allowed death row inmates to appeal their sentences on the grounds of racial bias in the court system.
“You have to always be careful when there are economic hardships because there are people who will play on the fears of regular folks in order to pass extremist legislation,” Wilson-Hargrove told NewsOne.
With the broad swath of laws ensuring fairness and equity that the Republican legislature is looking to dismantle, conservative lawmakers have effectively awakened, angered, and engaged a huge segment of the population to rally against their agenda.
Though it’s only been a month, it would be a surprise to see the North Carolina protests end anytime soon.