The Rev. William J. Barber II, the chief architect of the “Moral Monday” protest movement, went back to jail on Wednesday after being arrested again outside an N.C. General Assembly chamber while demonstrating against election law changes.
The president of the North Carolina NAACP was joined by several dozen others at the N.C. Legislative Building, advocating for the repeal of the sweeping overhaul made to state election law in 2013. The arrest of Barber and nine others comes 2 1/2 weeks before a federal trial is set to begin to consider a legal challenge to the 2-year-old law.
In court documents and at the demonstration on Wednesday, protesters decried what they described as an overhaul designed to restrict rather than enhance voting efforts. They cite the voter ID requirement set to go into effect next year, the curbing of early voting days and same-day registration and the elimination of straight-ticket voting to bolster their contentions.
The demonstrators also protested the Republican-led redistricting in 2011 of legislative and congressional districts, a plan that has been challenged in court as a “racial gerrymander” intended to weaken the black vote.
The arrests on Wednesday come in a year that has seen fewer protesters each week at the General Assembly than during prior sessions. Barber was among hundreds arrested during the 2013 session for trespassing and other charges. The Goldsboro-based minister, who has been away for part of the current session, said the movement has focused on other tactics. They’ve organized rallies and events in the home districts of legislators the protesters have nominated for their so-called “Hall of Shame.”
Republicans have described the voter ID provision as an effort to curb voter fraud, though there have been few cases brought forward and prosecuted in North Carolina.