Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of the Legislative Building Monday afternoon. It was the beginning of what they say is a second year of rallies in response to laws passed by the state’s Republican-led legislature.
Like many of last year’s Moral Monday rallies, this one started like a party. But it wasn’t exactly a celebration. People protested new laws affecting education, Medicaid and voting.
“Over one year ago, on April 29, I was arrested on the first Moral Monday,” Bryan Perlmutter, a recent graduate of NC State University, told the crowd. “Thom Tillis and the North Carolina General Assembly were attacking the future of our generation, and we need to take a stand.”
Last year, almost a-thousand people got arrested after gathering inside of the Legislative Building. So, yesterday, Reverend William Barber of the North Carolina NAACP gave instructions -– following new rules lawmakers set on rallies in the building.
“We want everybody to get a piece of tape, and put it across your mouth,” Barber said.
Barber called for silence. He says it’s unconstitutional that police now get to decide when a gathering inside the building becomes a disturbance.
“Because to say that people can’t speak in the people’s house is like trying to tape up democracy,” Barber said.
But Republican lawmakers say that’s not what they intended. They say they welcome people visiting the Legislature.
“I think it’s fantastic that these people believe what they believe, and they’re willing to come down here and express their viewpoint,” said Senator Jim Davis, a Republican from Franklin, as people gathered. “The foundation of our country is the citizens’ dedication to peaceful protest.”
People covered their mouths with silver duct tape and walked quietly toward the House and Senate chambers. After the demonstration, Perlmutter said he wants lawmakers to listen, and isn't afraid of getting arrested again.
“We’re not trying to get them to listen to us,” Perlmutter said. “We are going to make them listen to us.”
Protesters say they’ll be back on Tuesday -- but they won’t be as quiet next time.