Moral Monday Protests in N.C. Edging Toward 1,000 Total Arrests

by Sterling Beard

There were 73 arrests at the twelfth Moral Monday protest yesterday outside the North Carolina state house in Raleigh, bringing the total number of arrests from the series of protests to 925.

That makes an average of roughly 77 arrests every Monday for the last three months; at this pace, it’s possible that next week’s Moral Monday protest, the 13th, could result in the 1,000th arrest.

The Moral Monday protests, organized by the NAACP to oppose the Republican state government’s legislative agenda, have varied in their focus. Yesterday’s protest dealt primarily with changes in the state’s voting rules, while last week’s protest focused on women’s issues. (Each week’s theme is listed in advance on the North Carolina NAACP’s website.)

Raleigh’s ABC affiliate reports that the the protesters didn’t exactly make a splash this week, despite the arrests: The legislature moved the time of its evening session three hours earlier than usual, to 4 p.m., so the protesters, who showed up at 7, found themselves ”singing and chanting in a largely empty building” several hours later. The arrests came after North Carolina NAACP president Reverend William Barber ordered protesters to sit down in the capitol, signaling their intent to stay. General Assembly Police chief Jeff Weaver declared the empty building closed around 7:20 p.m. and those who remained were arrested. 

Democrats had controlled North Carolina’s state legislature for over a century until the 2010 midterm elections, when the GOP take the majority in both chambers. The Republican party solidified control over the state government when Pat McCrory won the governorship in 2012, the first GOP governor since 1993.

The protesters aren’t the only ones who disapprove of the legislature’s agenda, which has included a 25 percent cut in the state income-tax rate, a voter-ID law, and a ban on sex-selective abortions. The New York Times published an editorial on July 9 that mourned what it called “the grotesque damage that a new Republican majority has been doing to a tradition of caring for the least fortunate”; Governor McCrory responded with his own sarcastic rejoinder.