RALEIGH – Eighty-four people were arrested at the seventh Moral Monday protest in Raleigh, including four members of the United Church of Chapel Hill. Police estimated that close to a thousand gathered for the rally outside, targeting policies of the Republican-controlled legislature.
Inside the State House, the activists who planned to be arrested walked in a circle outside chamber doors, chanting and singing. Nineteen-year-old Kira Frescoln was one of them.
“I think that it is time that we stand up. You can’t just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk,” Frescoln said.
Frescoln and her pastor at the United Church of Chapel, Jill Edens, along with fellow congregation members, Reverend Susan Steinberg and Dave Otto, all were arrested Monday night, rallying against Republican policies ranging from social spending to education and voting rights.
Seventeen were arrested at the first Moral Monday protest in late April. Now, the arrest total is nearing 500. The number of protest supporters has grown as well, traveling from places such as Charlotte, Wilmington, and Black Mountain.
“We’re in this for the long haul. We’re willing to do this until November 2014,” Edens said.
United Church of Chapel Hill has sent about 25 people each week, and about 10 members have been arrested.
“I’m here to stand up for what I think is important. I’m sick and tired of reading what the Legislature is doing. I haven’t seen a single thing that they have proposed which I agree with,” Otto said.
Before the perspective arrestees, who wore green arm bands, arrived at the General Assembly, the NAACP debriefed them in the Christian Faith Baptist Church in Raleigh. They passed out sign-up sheets, told them how to march into the State Legislature, and described what to expect while being arrested.
“I feel honored to have this opportunity. I’m thankful this is so well organized, and that makes me feel safe going into it,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg is the Associate Pastor for Children’s Ministries at the United Church of Chapel Hill. She said the last straw for her was the proposed legislation allowing guns to be carried in public places, such as playgrounds.
NAACP protest organizers also provided snacks and transportation to the General Assembly for the soon-to-be arrestees.
“Let it be clear and let it be known, they may not change, but neither will we! As long as we have breath in our bodies, as long as we have marching in our feet, we will stand. We will fight!” exclaimed NAACP state chapter president and Civil Disobedience Movement leader, Reverend William Barber.
Speakers from state advocacy groups also spoke about environmental and healthcare issues, which were the featured topics of the day.
Paperhand Puppet Intervention’s Jan Burger attended the rally outside. He carried a larger-than-life puppet, representing Mother Earth.
“I try and have my work and what I believe in inter-mesh. If I can use my art, the puppets, and the images that we create to make a difference in this world, that feels great,” Burger said.
Carrboro Aldermen Sammy Slade and Damon Seils, who were arrested during a previous protest, were in attendance, as well as Senator Ellie Kinnaird, who represents Orange and Chatham Counties.
Barber issued a call for larger crowds to attend the next two protests, dubbing them “Mass Moral Mondays.”