"The appeal for each Moral Monday has been the same: urging legislators to govern for the good of the whole, rather than for the wealthy."
— Rev. William Barber.
Since April, North Carolina citizens have been gathering at the state capital in Raleigh for "Moral Monday" rallies and acts of civil disobedience to protest the the cruel things Republican legislators are doing to the people of the state. This week, despite tornado warnings, more than 1,400 protesters gathered for the sixth week's protests, and more than 80 were arrested, including one reporter clearly wearing news credentials. A week ago Monday, 151 were arrested. Arrests for this and recent Moral Mondays now total 388.
This video is from the June 3 Moral Monday rally:
What's going on? Republicans took over and started enacting severe, cruel policies against the poor and minorities, while giving tax cuts to the rich and businesses. As The Nation explains in "Protesters Shake Up North Carolina Legislature With Moral Monday Demonstrations,"
In 2010, Republicans took control of the state House and Senate for the first time since Reconstruction. With their firm majority, the GOP redrew district lines for state Senate and House seats, securing an even more solid majority in the 2012 election. Voters also elected a Republican governor, the former mayor of Charlotte, Pat McCrory. Many assumed that his big-city background would make him a moderate, but McCrory quickly appointed Art Pope, the money behind many of the state’s Tea Party candidates, as budget director, and the legislature went to work.
Some of the severe measures already passed include:
- Cutting the payroll tax credit for over 900,000 poor and working people
- Slashing state unemployment benefits and rejecting federally-funded Emergency Unemployment Compensation to 170,000 laid-off workers
- Rejecting federal funds to expand Medicaid to cover 500,000 North Carolinians without health insurance
They are preparing to pass more, including:
- Restarting the death penalty and repealing the Racial Justice Act which had exposed that the death penalty was applied in a racially discriminatory way
- Reducing preschool for poor children
- Privatizing public schools with "vouchers"
- Rolling back early voting; banning Sunday voting (so churches cannot organize voting drives); implementing voter ID to keep poor and minorities from voting; not allowing parents to get a $2,500 child tax credit if their children vote
- Codifying anti-labor language in the state constitution
And this is not because of budget problems. More proposals include:
- Reducing the business franchise tax
- Cutting the corporate income tax
- Lowering the personal income tax
Clergy, Citizen Groups Respond
In response, clergy, the NAACP and progressive organizations organized Moral Monday protests at the state capitol. Rev. William J. Barber is president of the North Carolina conference of more than 100 NAACP Branches, and leads the NAACP's 'Moral Mondays' campaign in Raleigh. Writing at The Guardian in "Our message to North Carolina's GOP: 'Moral Mondays' are here to stay," explains,
When far-right extremists took over the Grand Old Party and turned it into a joyless, humorless, mean-spirited vehicle to line the pockets of the super-rich, we already had experience bringing people to Jones Street, where the state capitol is located, and advocating for the poor and vulnerable. It is not surprising, then, that a couple of months ago, when we called for moral witnesses based on Gandhi and Dr. King's brilliant examples of nonviolent direct action, we had 17 ministers and other leaders answer the call and participate in the first inaugural "Moral Monday".
Republican State Senator Thom Goolsby wrote an op-ed for the Chatham Journal, "Moron Monday shows radical Left just doesn’t get it," saying, (please read the entire op-ed)
The circus came to the State Capitol this week, complete with clowns, a carnival barker and a sideshow. The “Reverend” Barber was decked out like a prelate of the Church of Rome (no insult is meant to Catholics), complete with stole and cassock. All he was missing was a miter and the ensemble would have been complete.
Several hundred people – mostly white, angry, aged former hippies – appeared and screeched into microphones, talked about solidarity and chanted diatribes. It was “liberal theater” at its best. Just like having a honey bun and double espresso for breakfast, the impact of it all left the participants jittery and empty in the end.
Moral Mondays will continue.
And now there are Witness Wednesdays, too.
Politics North Caroline: Moral Monday protests: Why they matter
Click here to see photos of Monday's arrests at the Raleigh News & Observer.
Click here to see Rev. Barber's YouTube channel with Moral Monday videos.
Here are some of the stories about this week's and previous Moral Monday protests.
Raleigh News & Observer, Clergy lead Monday protests at General Assembly
Durham Herald Sun: Clergy lead Moral Monday protest
Police records indicate that 98 percent of those arrested during the "Moral Monday" protests at the General Assembly are from North Carolina, despite claims by leading Republicans that the rallies are packed with people from out of state.
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