North Carolina is firmly red, much to the joy of NC State fans the world over!
We don’t take civil disobedience lightly. But the avalanche of extreme policies from Gov. Pat McCrory and the North Carolina General Assembly — attacking the poor and unemployed, cutting crucial funding from public education and dismantling voting rights — left us no choice. From teenage college students to elderly grandmothers, we are assembling in the State Capitol, week after week, to sing, pray and force politicians to hear our voices.
After our first nonviolent protest, 17 of us were arrested and jailed. The next Monday, 30 moral witnesses were carted off in handcuffs, and the next week the number was 49. Last week, 57 protesters were arrested and jailed. Still more of us are prepared to put our bodies on the line to oppose the backward, far-right ideological vision taking hold in our state.
In the first 50 days of this session alone, the General Assembly and McCrory cut the earned income tax credit for more than 900,000 poor and working people. They rejected federal funding to expand Medicaid to cover 500,000 North Carolinians without health insurance. They slashed state unemployment benefits and rejected federally funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation to 170,000 laid-off workers. This vicious war on the poor will devastate hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who are already suffering. And with no checks on the Republican hold on the legislature and governorship, these laws are only the beginning.
Piling further indignities on the poor, they also want to require people applying for temporary assistance or benefits to submit to criminal background checks, and force applicants to a job training program for low-income workers to take a drug test, for which they have to pay.
Now the legislature wants to increase and expand taxes on groceries, haircuts and prescription drugs. They’re even taking aim at poor children with a bill to lower the income requirement for North Carolina’s prekindergarten program, making it off limits to nearly 30,000 children who would have previously qualified.
Perhaps most terrifying is that the politicians who have seized control are trying to rig the state’s election rules, seeking to remain in power far after this legislative session. In their kitchen sink approach to voter suppression, they have pushed bills to require strict forms of photo ID for voting, repeal same-day registration, cut early voting from 17 days to six and ban early voting on Sundays.
Mr. Barber is the President of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP. And he’s been instrumental in the Moral Monday protests at the capital.
Personally, the protests smack of laziness and juvenile tendencies. These people are getting arrested to see their names in the paper. To back slap each other at the Occupy Nowhere bonfires. They fuel themselves.
The Tea Party rallied, to be sure. But they were legal. They weren’t arrested. They left the grounds better than they found them
These people? Occupy Wall Street retreds.