CHAPEL HILL – With court appearances continuing for those arrested in the Moral Monday protests, lawyers for the arrestees argue that their clients had a right to be protesting under our constitution.
Civil rights attorney and member of the North Carolina NAACP’s leadership council, Al McSurely, says he’s represented two groups of three arrested protesters so far in their first court appearances and has made that same constitutional argument before the judges.
“Both times, the judges were very open to that argument and lifted the restrictions on my clients’ ability to go back and see Senator Kinnaird or Representative Insko,” McSurely says.
McSurely is referring to a restriction placed on those arrested at the Moral Mondays protests that barred them from returning to the state capital, which he previously said was “patently unconstitutional.”
“Some of us believe strongly that both the federal and state constitution only have any meaning when they are tested,” McSurely says.
More than 900 protesters were arrested at the state capital, charged with crimes varying from trespassing, failure to disperse, and holding a sign inside the capital building.
With that high level of defendants, with around 700 being arrested in just the past weeks, McSurely says court proceedings could easily stretch into December and January.
“I don’t have any estimate, and I don’t think the D.A.’s office has any estimate of when all of the first appearances will be over,” McSurely says.
Moral Monday protesters will no longer be meeting at the state capital, with some protesters and McSurely himself going to a gathering in Asheville this past Monday.
Reverend William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and one of the main speakers at many of the Moral Monday rallies, will be giving a speech related to the Moral Monday movement in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of the March on Washington speech, August 28.
Some residents of Chicago are also starting their own protests and are calling the action Moral Monday as well.