NC NAACP president, 16 other protestors arrested outside NC Senate

jfrank@newsobserver.comApril 29, 2013 

— In the strongest statement so far against the Republican legislature, a group of 50 protestors marched into the legislative building Monday and blocked the tall gilded doors to the N.C. Senate chamber in an act of civil disobedience that led to 17 arrests.

N.C. NAACP President William Barber led the protest, standing in the rotunda on the second floor to read an indictment against the Republican-led legislature for denying Medicaid coverage to as many as 500,000 poor people, cutting unemployment benefits and proposing legislation to divert money from public education and require a voter ID at the polls.

Barber said the preponderance of actions from the GOP lawmakers demanded a strong statement. “There must be a witness in the face of extremism and regressive public policy,” Barber said, calling Gov. Pat McCrory and legislative leaders this generation’s “George Wallaces.”

Barber, Duke University scholar Tim Tyson and a handful of clergy members were among those arrested just before the Senate’s 7 p.m. session.

General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver warned the protesters to disperse three times before arresting them.

Most protesters left, but 17 refused to move. The protestors sang “We Shall Overcome” and other civil rights-era songs as Raleigh police officers put plastic zip ties on their wrists and led them away. Weaver said the protesters arrested will likely face charges of disorderly conduct, second-degree trespass and violation of building rules, all misdemeanors.

At one point, Republican state Rep. Michael Speciale, a New Bern Republican, poked his head around a hallway corner to watch the demonstration. He suggested the action won’t make difference in the lawmaking.

“They have a right to protest; we have a right to disagree,” he said. “If we are here to do what is right for North Carolina, then we are doing the right thing.”

Two years ago, Barber and six others were arrested for interrupting a legislative session to protest the state budget. The latest arrests are part of an ongoing series of demonstrations across the state. “There must be an act that dramatizes the shameful” agenda, Barber said. “Nobody ... can say they don’t know what’s happening North Carolina.”

Frank: 919-829-4698

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service