Moral Mondays

Jedediah Purdy
Duke University

Jed Purdy grew up in West Virginia and spent much of his time exploring the countryside and reading. So he was just as surprised as anyone when just a few years later his first book “For Common Things” threw him into the limelight.

Photo: Protesters gathered at the North Carolina General Assembly building on the second anniversary of what's become known as "Moral Monday" rallies.
Jorge Valencia

Hundreds of protesters returned to the North Carolina General Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, renewing a call on Republican state leaders to reverse several landmark pieces of legislation approved since 2011.

On the second anniversary of what’s become known as “Moral Monday” rallies, protesters gathered outside the legislative building, while some chanted inside the building beside the Senate and House chamber doors.

A woman is arrested at the state capitol as a part of a Moral Mondays protest.
NAACP

In the above interview, host Catherine Brand speaks with Capitol Reporter Jorge Valencia about Raleigh's top prosecutor's decision to dismiss hundreds of cases against people who were arrested for protesting at the state Capitol last year.

In talking about the decision, District Attorney Ned Mangum referenced a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a Massachusetts law limiting protests outside abortion clinics. He says the District and Superior courts in Wake County have cited the case to dismiss some protest cases here.

A picture of a gavel on a table.
Joe Gratz / Flickr Creative Commons

A decision by a Wake County District Judge to dismiss the cases against five Moral Monday protesters could affect many more of them. Judge Joyce Hamilton came out of retirement to help decide many of the cases.

Last week, Hamilton considered a recent Supreme Court decision that prohibited Massachusetts from blocking protesters in a buffer zone around abortion clinics before making her decision.

The scene in House Speaker Thom Thillis' office in the middle of the night.
Jorge Valencia

Fourteen people were arrested overnight at the General Assembly after sitting in and demanding to speak with House Speaker Thom Tillis. They were there lobbying for more than 10 hours with organizers of the Moral Monday protests.
 

NC General Assembly; State Legislature.
Dave Crosby / Flickr Share-Alike

State legislators have redefined the rules laying out how people may gather in protest at the General Assembly.

They were approved by the Legislative Services Commission on Thursday. The measures are a rewrite of rules last changed in 1987. The updates prohibit activities that cause an "imminent disturbance," and they more clearly define what kinds of signs can be used.

Republican Tim Moore chairs the committee:

Photo: The Raging Grannies
Jessica Jones

Dozens of demonstrators clinked and banged pots, pans and spoons outside of the North Carolina General Assembly’s offices in Raleigh on Wednesday morning, protesting recent state laws, as senators and representatives met for their first day in session this year.

The demonstration, in which people held signs protesting issues such as a Voter ID law passed last year, low teacher pay, and low unemployment benefits, served as a prelude for a series of demonstrations set for Mondays while lawmakers are in session.

Thousands marched to the North Carolina State Capitol building on Saturday.
James Willamor via Flickr

Organizers of Saturday’s moral march on Raleigh plan to use the event’s momentum to mobilize voters, they say. The event follows last year’s weekly Moral Monday rallies that criticized laws passed by North Carolina’s Republican-led government.  The new focus is on the fall elections.

Stephen D. Melkisethian via Flickr

Among the thousands of people who marched to the North Carolina State Capitol building and filled five city blocks in front of it, there was no singular cause for gathering. But written on the signs and banners people carried were a handful issues that seemed to repeat themselves every 20 feet in the crowd.

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

Thousands of people are expected to march in downtown Raleigh on Saturday, some coming in buses from other states, to call on North Carolina legislators to reverse laws they’ve signed over the last year including requiring voters to show IDs in polling stations, reducing unemployment benefits and blocking Medicaid expansion.

NC NAACP leader Reverend William Barber speaks to Moral Monday protesters.
Matthew Lenard

Some Moral Monday protesters' legal cases are expected to be dismissed in Wake County district court.

Lawyer Scott Holmes represents some of the plaintiffs who were arrested on May 20th. Holmes believes the Wake County District Attorney has made the decision to dismiss the charges for everyone arrested on that date. Some cases in that group have already been dismissed. Holmes thinks the D.A. plans to dismiss the rest when those cases are heard on February 18th. He says so far, prosecutors have tried cases based on evidence specifically focused on individuals.

Bill Moyers and Company

Bill Moyers takes an in-depth look at the changing political climate here in North Carolina this week in a new documentary, State of Conflict: North Carolina.

State of Conflict: North Carolina from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

Here's how Moyers frames the story:

Photo: The Rev. William Barber outside the North Carolina State Capitol building.
Jorge Valencia

A judge gave permission Monday to a group that’s been protesting new North Carolina laws to rally on the grounds of the state Capitol building.

Wake County Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour’s decision reversed denial of a permit  earlier this month.  It served as a preamble for the new year of protests, that have become known as Moral Monday, against the Republican-controlled state legislature.

Just hours after the decision, the Rev. William Barber, one of the key Moral Monday organizers, spoke to dozens of people on a courtyard outside the Capitol, mapping out 2014.

They are both named David. Dave Otto is a photographer, David C. Taylor is a painter. Together, they are providing some of the most stunning visual images related to the Moral Monday protests.

David Taylor went to one protest by himself. "I just kind of wanted to be a part of it, but I felt like an outsider. I didn’t know where the event was, I wasn't sure how to get close to the speaker. I didn’t even take my camera."

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

More Moral Monday protesters will have their cases heard in court today.

Earlier this year, more than 900 people were arrested for protesting at the North Carolina legislature. The Wake County District Attorney’s office has given them the choice of paying a fine and performing community service or facing a judge. Many of them have chosen to go to court. And while they’ve been charged with the same crimes under similar circumstances, they’re getting different outcomes.

Police stand outside the capitol during a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver testified recently that law enforcement officers collected intelligence on participants in Moral Monday protests. Police officials say the measures were necessary to ensure public safety. Critics say the move went too far.

Dale Herman
Leoneda Inge

The people who were arrested at the Moral Monday protests at the state legislature will be recognized Thursday at the annual NAACP state convention.

More than 900 people were arrested during the Moral Monday protests against Republican policy in Raleigh.  One of them was Gann Herman.

“We are part of a growing coalition.  We come from a lot of different organizations and churches," said Gann Herman.

Her husband Dale Herman was also arrested.  He only demonstrated in anti-war demonstrations before this.

Moral Monday
Jessica Jones

The first Moral Monday activist to be tried has been found guilty by a Raleigh court.

Wake County District Court Judge Joy Hamilton found Saladin Muammad guilty on three counts Friday afternoon. They were misdemeanor charges for trespassing, failing to disperse and violating building rules at a protest on May thirteenth.

Another protester, Patrick O'Neill, said he wasn't surprised at today's guilty charge. But Muammad and his attorney plan to appeal, and O'Neill thinks that could have a better result.

Rev. William Barber
North Carolina NAACP

Today is the first Monday in thirteen weeks without an NAACP led Moral Monday rally outside the Capitol in Raleigh. But the protests aren’t over. Rev. William Barber, leader of the North Carolina NAACP, says he’s taking Moral Monday on the road, all throughout the state. The road trip starts today in Asheville.

The coalition that Rev. Barber has built over the last few months is entering a new phase, and will be tested. Can it last? And can it win elections? 

NC General Assembly, Moral Mondays
Jessica Jones

Organizers of the "Moral Monday" protests held one of their largest marches at the legislature Monday.

Police watching the rally estimated there were between 4,000 and 5,000 protesters there. Many were teachers, who were wearing red clothing.

Transcript

CELESTE HEADLEE, HOST:

As you heard, North Carolina's legislature has passed some tighter voting restrictions. But that's just one of the issues that's been driving Moral Mondays. Moral Mondays is a series of demonstrations by religious and progressive activists taking place at North Carolina's state capital.

Protesters crowd the capitol for a Moral Mondays protest.
Matthew Lenard

It seems like a long time ago, but it’s really been just seven months since newly-inaugurated Governor Pat McCrory sounded this hopeful tone:

“North Carolina’s greatest strength and asset remains its people,” he said during his inauguration speech.

“On those main streets across this state, it’s the people that count and that make a difference. People will come from different backgrounds but share a common set of principles. Self-starters and hard workers.”

Protesters gather for a Moral Mondays protest at the capitol.
Matthew Lenard

Another demonstration on Halifax Mall led to 73 arrests Monday night. It was the 12th Moral Monday event protesting the Republican-led General Assembly. 

This demonstration centered on what protestors called undue cuts to education and a bill that would change voting requirements.  Protesters said they don't like the provision in the voter ID bill that would cut back on early voting.

"That’s ridiculous. That’s absolutely ridiculous," said Antoinette Joyner of Winston-Salem.

Reverend William Barber led another Moral Mondays protest at the capitol.
Matthew Lenard

For many lawmakers and lobbyists, the culmination of five months of work during this biennial long session came when a final budget was released late Sunday night. More than 500 pages and $20.5 billion, the budget was finalized behind closed doors by two men, both Republicans – Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis.

A woman is arrested at the state capitol as a part of a Moral Mondays protest.
NAACP

The cost of policing Moral Mondays is growing, and some aren't happy about who is picking up the bill.  Usually, protests on state property are handled by the State Capitol Police and the General Assembly Police.  But since a 2011 budget cut, state capitol police have been down 40 staff members—almost half the force.

State Police Chief Glenn Allen says the cut limits what his force can do.

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