Something wonderful is happening in my home state of North Carolina. People from all faiths, races and genders are coming together on Mondays to protest some radically conservative laws that the Republican majority legislature is behind.
Among the issues citizens are protesting are proposed bills and already passed bills that can only be described as draconian that erode voters’ rights, cut public education funds, cut health benefits and basically hurt the poor, disenfranchised, elderly, and non-whites. You know the drill by now. (I'll add a link to specific issues shortly).
So for the past five Mondays, people have gathered at the Statehouse to protest and the numbers are growing every week. The protest has been dubbed Moral Mondays by the N.C. NAACP, which has organized the marches by coalescing church groups and anyone else who wants to join.
Police estimated today’s crowd at 1,000, according to local paper, The News & Observer, while organizers said it was closer to 1,600. That’s more than double from last week. In fact, the NC Dept. of Administration asked the protesters to move the rally to a different spot since so many people were coming, and they did.
My sister and one of my friends since I was 5 years old went today. More than 100 people were arrested, but get this, you know in advance you’re going to be arrested: if you walk into the legislature and are asked to leave and don't, you are arrested for civil disobedience. So every week, a specific number of protesters go into the General Assembly building knowing they’re getting arrested and can make plans to make bail, arrange child care, etc. The police very peacefully arrest them and the rest of the protesters remain outside, according to my sister. When the buses take the arrested to be arraigned, the other protesters cheer them on.
My sister was floored by the diversity of the crowd. “There was a man who had to be in his 80s, who had an oxygen tank. There were all ages, all races,” she told me. I'm so proud of her.
Some people are beginning to compare this to the protests in Wisconsin last year. Moral Monday shows no sign of abating and protesters from all over the state are now taking part. I’m planning on joining the protest next time I’m in Raleigh on a Monday.
The hope is that the protests keep building in number and bring about a greater general awareness of the issues so that people will really understand what is at stake in the 2014 state elections. Let your voice be heard and let freedom ring.
June 3: North Carolina NAACP*
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*I've given to the National branch of the NAACP previously this year, but not the NC branch.