Fifteen protesters holding signs calling for North Carolina lawmakers to expand Medicaid and unemployment benefits were arrested after refusing to stop chanting and leave an area outside of the state Senate chambers on Monday night.
The protest, the latest in the "Moral Monday" rallies that started last year, included hundreds of more demonstrators who met behind the state Legislative Building in Raleigh and organized in an area on the second and third floors between the Senate and House chambers.
State Representatives, who were meeting while protesters were chanting outside their chambers, stopped their deliberations at least once because they couldn't hear each other. The General Assembly police asked people to lower their speaking volume -- which included chants such as "Whose house? Our house!" and, "This is what democracy looks like!" -- but the crowd did not acquiesce.
The 15 who were arrested were charged with second degree trespassing and violation of building rules, said General Assembly Police Lt. Martin Brock.
According to the General Assembly's non-partisan staff, the "Moral Monday" protesters' demands would cost more than $7 billion and would require raising corporate income tax from 6 to 50 percent, says Senate President Pro-tem Phil Berger's office.
Protesters say new laws enacted by the state's Republican-led assembly, including allowing earned income tax credit for working poor to expire, benefit only big businesses. Another rally is expected next Monday.