Elizabeth Huff with her protest signage; Photo by Alex Curley
ORANGE COUNTY – While the protests at our state capital are finished for now, the courts continue seeing the arrested protesters from the Moral Monday rallies.
More than 900 protesters were arrested over the course of 13 weekly protests, starting May 6. The first group appeared in court and pleaded not guilty on June 24.
Mark Dorosin, managing attorney at UNC’s Center for Civil Rights and a member of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, is representing the members of the Chapel Hill Town Council and the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, including Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, all of whom were arrested at the protests on June 3.
Only one of Dorosin’s clients, whom he calls the Orange County Five, has had a court appearance so far: Carrboro Alderman Michelle Johnson. Dorosin says that, at the pace proceedings are going, court dates for Moral Mondays arrestees will go on for a while.
“Folks were being arrested through a few weeks ago,” Dorosin says. “I imagine that first appearances will stretch six months into the future, and of course, that’s just first appearances.”
Those arrested are charged with a variety of misdemeanors, including trespassing, holding a sign inside the capital building and failure to disperse. Dorosin says the mixed charges make it difficult to tell what penalties arrestees could face.
“I imagine that, if they are found guilty on those, they would probably have to pay a fine, but again, none of the cases have yet gone to trial, so it’s not clear what the ramifications are,” Dorosin says.
Dorosin says one additional punishment is that those arrested are no longer allowed in the capital building, which he says is unconstitutional.