Last week’s “Moral Monday” demonstration at the General Assembly took a surprising turn when fifteen protestors occupied the office of House Speaker Thom Tillis – and refused to leave until he agreed to meet with them.
Nearly twelve hours later, 14 of the demonstrators were arrested. (The fifteenth had gone home.) They never did meet with Tillis, but the sit-in drew a great deal of public attention – all from an action that appears to have been spontaneous and unplanned.
Orange County resident Mark Marcoplos has been active in the Moral Monday movement since its inception last year; he was one of hundreds of arrestees last summer. He was there last Tuesday as well to observe the sit-in – and he says as far as he could tell, even movement leader Rev. William Barber was unaware the 15 demonstrators were about to do what they did. Otherwise, he says, the demonstrators’ tactic (so far) has been to follow the new rules established by the state legislature for public behavior in the capitol – while calling attention to the fact that they’re observing them. (WCHL’s Aaron Keck called that approach “conspicuous obedience.”)
Marcoplos and Keck sat down for a conversation on the WCHL Afternoon News on Wednesday, the day after the demonstration.
When asked what was next for the movement, Marcoplos deferred – but Rev. Barber said this week that demonstrators would be challenging the new rules directly in future protests.