WAKE COUNTY – A Wake County judge found North Carolina NAACP President William Barber and 11 other Moral Monday protesters guilty of second-degree trespassing and violating building rules while rallying at the state legislature in April.
District Court Judge Joy Hamilton issued her ruling Wednesday after a two-day trial. Defense lawyers argued that the protesters’ actions were protected by both the U.S. and state constitutions, the Associated Press reported.
The 12 defendants in court this week were among the first of more than 900 people arrested during the weekly Moral Monday peaceful protests against legislation passed by Republican-controlled General Assembly during the summer.
Hamilton sentenced the defendants to pay a $100 fine and court costs. The defense gave immediate notice of appeal for the two convictions.
A handful of protesters have been convicted and are appealing, and a few others were acquitted. Charges against dozens of protesters were dropped after they agreed to perform community service under a deal offered by Wake County prosecutors.