Monday Protests Gain Steam, and Attention

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The regular “Moral Monday” protests began seven weeks ago, leading to a total so far of more than 350 arrests and attendance growing into the thousands.

The Count

April 29 – Protests began with 17 arrests.
May 6 – 30 arrests
May 13 – 49 arrests
May 20 – 57 arrests
May 27 – Legislature closed for Memorial Day.
June 1 – 151 arrests
June 10 – 84 arrests, mainly clergy

The protests, led by the state chapter of the NAACP and other left-leaning groups, have been featured on the front page of the News & Observer and led the newscast on WRAL and other local stations. Recently, they’ve gained national attention. The Washington Post picked up the story the week before Memorial Day. This week the Post ran another story, and the New York Times and the LA Times, prompted by the protests, ran stories on the protests and the conservative shift at the North Carolina General Assembly.

State Senator Thom Goolsby made headlines last week with a column in the Chatham Journal calling the protests “Moron Monday.” And the General Assembly Police and the Raleigh Police Department got their share of bad press after arresting a clearly identified reporter with the Charlotte Observer. And, of course, you can see that arrest (and others) on YouTube.

Enough ink has been spilled and airtime filled on the whys of the protests—cuts to pre-K education and early voting, taxes on the poor, repealing the Racial Justice Act, requiring an ID to vote. Democrats and progressives have plenty to be angry about.

The Record has sent photographers to several Monday protests, and we present a selection of those photographs below. I attended a Moral Monday protest four weeks ago from start to finish, and have followed and stopped by the protests along the way.

In the words of our most experienced photographer Karen Tam, “It’s a well oiled machine” for civil disobedience. Well, that’s until that reporter got swept up in the arrests this week despite showing his press badge and protesting in a different way, telling officers he was only there to do his job.

Read a narrative about a recent “Moral Monday” event below the photo gallery.

On Monday, May 26 I followed the protest from start to finish. More than a hundred people, including all of those planning to get arrested, met for a pre-protest rally and information session on getting arrested. Members of the press were not allowed in the Davie Street Presbyterian Church for most of the speeches and training.

Those planning to get arrested got rides from those who did not, joining hundred of people already assembled outside the capitol. The rally continued with more speeches, song and chants, led by Rev. William Barber, head of the North Carolina NAACP.

Two by two hundreds of people walked across Jones Street into the state legislature, more than 500 people singing songs of the civil rights era. Those planning to get arrested assembled in front of the huge double doors leading into the Senate chambers.

charles new mug

Charles C. Duncan Pardo

At 6:30 on the dot, an officer with a bullhorn announced a 5-minute warning. “This is an unlawful assembly.” Many people left the building.

Five minutes past and a pastor was leading a prayer. When the prayer finished, the same officer with the bullhorn announced another 2-minute warning before anyone who was left blocking the main entrance to the Senate chambers would be arrested.

Those remaining continued to sing. “Let it shine.” The stood with their hands crossed in front of them. The song switched to “We shall overcome” as officers began arresting people.

It was all very orderly. People waited patiently, offering their hands and turning around for officers with the general assembly police to put on the white plastic zip-tie style handcuffs. Fifty-seven people waited in line to be arrested.

Three beige busses labeled Prisoner Transport waited out back. Hundreds of people lined up across the street to continue singing and waited for the prisoners to be led out.

Police stopped traffic on Lane Street so Barber, walking with a cane and a severe limp, could cross the street.

It took another hour or so for people to begin to come out and be loaded on the busses, to the cheers of hundreds of people across the street. Each bus, once loaded, left under police escort for the Wake County jail a dozen blocks away.

Barber thanked the police, and had the crowd give them a hand.
~Charles C. Duncan Pardo

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