More than 100 protesters marched into the state Legislative Building on Tuesday to call for better health-care coverage on the state and national levels, leading to the arrests of 32 people, including the Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the NAACP.
Many of those arrested were there to stage a sit-in and refused to clear the hallways outside legislative leaders’ offices. Others were taken into custody after refusing repeated requests to stop shouting.
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All those arrested were charged with second-degree trespassing, for blocking Senate leader Phil Berger’s office or refusing to leave Senate Rules Committee Chairman Bill Rabon’s office, said General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock.
The gathering was organized by the NAACP and other advocacy groups, and was meant to call for reforms of health-care law, including the N.C. General Assembly’s refusal to expand Medicaid coverage for up to 500,000 low-income people.
A number of medical professionals and clergy were also part of the event, which was scheduled to conclude in the evening with a rally on Bicentennial Plaza near the Legislative Building. At what was dubbed a “Moral Day of Action for Health Care,” speakers also called for the rejection of congressional Republicans’ proposed rewrite of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.
“No one asks for a pre-existing condition,” said Jacqueline Marx of Carrboro, a cantor in the Judea Reform Congregation who was part of the protest inside the Legislative Building. “When he hear that we can’t receive coverage because of a pre-existing condition it’s like you did something wrong.”
The protesters filed into the building to deliver poster-sized proclamations to legislative leaders, but quickly escalated in volume as they packed into Rabon’s front office and sat down in front of Berger’s closed doors.
There have been more than 1,000 arrests of protesters at the Legislative Building since 2013, in reaction to laws enacted by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and former Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican.
Staff writer Colin Campbell contributed