13 Protesters Arrested At Legislative Building

May 22, 2018

Rev. William Barber, who is now a co-chair of the national Poor People's Campaign.
Credit Matthew Lenard

More than a dozen people were arrested Monday inside North Carolina's Legislative Building while demonstrating against Republican policies in the state and the nation and supporting a long list of liberal-leaning demands.

Authorities led away seven protesters in front of Senate leader Phil Berger's office door Monday afternoon and six at House Speaker Tim Moore's door, General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock said.

The arrests occurred during the second of six weeks of non-violent actions at state capitals and in Washington, D.C., by the national Poor People's Campaign. Nearly 50 protesters were cited by Raleigh police last Monday for blocking traffic in front of the building following a rally that attracted more than 200 people.

This Monday, more than 100 people entered the building after a rally focused on immigration and racism. They congregated around the second-floor corner offices of the chamber's top GOP leaders, to whom their chanting and singing were directed. Participants also laid out demands for initiatives such as living wage laws, universal health care, free college tuition and the repeal of the 2017 federal tax overhaul.

Police had told the groups about noise complaints, Brock said. The 13 protesters led away by police with plastic handcuffs were being charged with second-degree trespassing because they had refused to leave after those complaints, he said.

The civil disobedience was reminiscent of nonviolence protests that began in 2013 at the Legislative Building and ultimately led to more than 1,000 arrests. Those "Moral Movement" events were led by the Rev. William Barber, who is now a co-chair of the national Poor People's Campaign.

Ana Ilarraza-Blackburn, one of three co-chairs of the Poor People's Campaign movement in North Carolina, said there is no reason why the campaign demands can't be met. Instead, she said, federal politicians passed a federal tax law that benefits the rich and the expense of the poor.

America has "an abundance of resources," Ilarraza-Blackburn told reporters. "That's all about prioritizing."

Berger was in the building Monday during the protests, while Moore was in Washington at a White House meeting of state House speakers. Most legislators hadn't yet arrived for the legislative week.

The demonstrators referenced the fall elections before leaving the building before 5 p.m., chanting "vote them out" and "I believe that we will win." All 170 state legislative seats and congressional seats are on the ballot in November.