CHAPEL HILL – Bishop Larry Reid, pastor at the Cathedral of Hope Church in Carrboro, was arrested Monday during the NAACP’s protests of Republican legislation in Raleigh.
He says it was worth going to jail for what he believes in.
“It was about making a stance, saying enough is enough. They have created more discontent in this community and this state than I’ve seen in my 50-plus years of living.” Reid said.
Reid, along side NAACP N.C. Chapter president Rev. William Barber, and other activists participated in a “pray in”— or demonstrations through prayer and song. The protest took place inside the state Legislative Building.
They were arrested on charges of trespassing, creating a public disturbance, displaying unauthorized signage, and failure to disperse on command. Reid was released from jail 4:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. The group protested Republican action on health care, unemployment benefits, education, and voting rights.
Bill 589, entitled the Voter Information Verification Act, passed in the House last week. It requires voters to show photo identification at the polls. Members of the NAACP view the bill as a form of poll tax.
“It doesn’t make any sense that they would put something in place that is so restrictive and call it a voter ID. There’s no question in my mind that there are other motives that they have in mind,” Reid said.
President of the Chapel-Hill Carrboro NAACP Chapter, Minister Robert Campbell, says he fully supports the actions of his colleagues.
“Changes only come when there is a civil out-cry. Changes come when things are done in a peaceful manner, speaking out against these inappropriate processes that are taking place in the people’s house—the legislative building,” Campbell said. “If that’s what it takes for the conscious of men to be stirred up, then hey, it’s well worth it.”
Campbell believes this wave of recent legislation is regressive and is for the self-benefit of the Republican Party.
“People of faith are standing together, saying: ‘We’re not taking one step back. You might arrest 20, but 20 more will come,’” Campbell said.
Reid says Bill 589 not only discriminates against African Americans—he says it will affect other groups, like teenage voters, senior citizens, and college students. He has a daughter in college
“The reason we didn’t protest being arrested was because we wanted the people of North Carolina to see what we are standing for,” Reid said.
Another piece of legislation might affect the way his daughter votes. Senate Bill 667, Equalize Voter Rights, prevents parents from claiming their kids as dependents for tax exemptions if their kids are registered to vote at any address other than the parents’ home address.
Reid says the protests will continue.