20 arrested at North Carolina Legislature protesting GOP's policies
20 arrested at NC Legislature protest
Twenty people are facing trespassing and other charges after members of the "Moral Monday" movement disrupted the North Carolina Senate and House on Wednesday.
By EMERY P. DALESIO
Wednesday, April 29, 2015 11:17PM
Twenty people are facing trespassing and other charges after members of the "Moral Monday" movement disrupted the North Carolina Senate and House on Wednesday to protest Republican policy priorities.
Ten demonstrators were arrested during an evening protest outside the House chambers. Complaints from lawmakers about the loud singing led police to threaten arrest for noise violations.
Earlier, the Senate paused deliberations for about 20 minutes as singing, chanting protesters - most wearing clerical collars - demanded that GOP lawmakers reverse decisions on issues including tax cuts criticized for mostly benefiting big companies and the rich.
Ten protesters were arrested after they kneeled near the brass main doors of the Senate chamber and were charged with violating fire-safety codes or second-degree trespass, according to online county arrest records. Those arrested included David Forbes, the divinity school dean at Shaw University, a historically black college in Raleigh.
The protesters listed 14 demands including expanded Medicaid coverage, increased public education spending, and a rollback on abortion restrictions. Lawmakers were expected to take up legislation Wednesday that would let more people carry concealed handguns in more places, a move criticized by state NAACP President the Rev. William Barber.
"They would rather give people more access to guns than expand Medicaid," Barber said.
The protests marked two years since the movement's first arrests. The group began protesting after the election of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and an overwhelming GOP legislative majority the previous November. Organizers estimate more than 1,000 have been arrested.
About half the arrested protesters have resolved their cases by agreeing to do community service and pay a modest fee. Almost all the remaining cases were dismissed after the U.S. Supreme Court last June upheld the constitutional rights of people to peacefully assemble and protest government policies by striking down a Massachusetts law limiting protests outside abortion clinics.
The example of civil-disobedience in response to conservative governing has been copied by activists in Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and other states.
Republican Party executive director Todd Poole said the demonstrators were acting "under a false cloak" of morality "to push for their radical agenda of bigger government and higher taxes."