Epic End To Raleigh Moral Mondays

Photo by Rachel Nash

RALEIGH – For thirteen weeks, people have gathered in Raleigh to rally against the policies of the Republican-led General Assembly, as part of a movement that’s come to be called the Moral Monday protests. Since late April when the first 17 protesters were arrested, the number has grown to a final tally of 925. The legislature adjourned its tumultuous session last week, but that didn’t stop protesters.

In the largest crowd yet, they marched on the State Capitol Building in their final Moral Monday in Raleigh, shutting down streets as their message echoed across down town.

More than a thousand gathered on Fayetteville Street, facing the building where N.C. Governor McCrory conducts his business. A smaller group gathered at the State Capitol earlier in the day to demand a meeting with McCrory. Police kept the demonstration outside the building but said they would deliver the protesters’ letter to the governor.

In the past 12 Moral Mondays, the protesters have gone into the General Assembly, where arrests where made outside chamber doors. This time, the crowd gathered on the lawn of Halifax Mall and then marched in unison to their destination, chanting along the way.

Teachers from across the state came in droves, wearing red to represent public education. Rodney Ellis, president of the North Carolina Teacher’s Association, was arrested at last week’s Moral Monday.

“Last week, the legislature passed a budget that will ultimately destroy public education in North Carolina,” Ellis said.

 

Ellis explained that this budget eliminates over 9,000 education positions, including teacher jobs, teacher’s assistants and education support personnel. It provides no raises for teachers and does away with a salary increase for those who earn master’s degrees. Perhaps the most controversial measure is the $20 million set aside for “opportunity scholarships,” which opponents have compared to a school voucher system.

UNC alum Rory Santaloci currently teaches in Efland and has attended many Moral Mondays. He said the budget, which McCrory signed last week, is an insult to teachers across the state.

“If the majority of our population is taught in public schools, a large portion of the budget should go to public schools as well. We’re talking about the future of our state and the future of our counties,” Santaloci said.

Santloci is going to grad school at NYU in the fall, but because of what has happened, he won’t be coming back to his home state.

“Before this law was passed, I was going to grad school with the hope of returning to North Carolina and getting a pay raise. I’m going to [grad] school in New York and the incentive to return and teach where I am from is no longer there,” Santaloci said.

UNC Alum Ashley Jones, who is in her third year of teaching, had plans to get her master’s degree this fall, but cancelled those plans.

“In the foreseeable future, I’ll always be paid as a first year teacher, and it is not very much. To know that it [teacher’s salary] won’t go up is really frustrating,” Jones said.

NAACP State Chapter President and protest leader Reverend William Barber said the Moral Monday protesters aren’t going anywhere just because the General Assembly has adjourned, exclaiming, “This state is our state!”

“We understand that we are not in some mere political movement. We’re not in some mere fight over 2014. We’re in a fight for the soul of this state, the soul of the South, and the soul of this nation. And when you are in a soul fight, you don’t give up easy,” Barber said.

Though this was the last Moral Monday in Raleigh, the NAACP will continue the rallies but move to different locations around the state. The next will be in Asheville on August 5, and there are plans to hold demonstrations in all 13 of North Carolina’s congressional districts.

“What would have divided us years ago has brought us together like never before. We know where we are. Anytime in the South, you see this many black folk, brown folk, white folk, gay folk and straight folk, and people of all faiths hugging each other, something is on the loose!” Barber said.

The first Moral Monday rallies were mostly made up of protesters from the Triangle area and members of the NAACP, but as the weeks progressed and the controversial legislation was unveiled, the crowds grew.

Paul Jones, a Clinical Professor at the UNC  School of Information and Library Science and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications, said, “This is my sixth visit here [to Moral Monday] to try to turn the hearts of the legislature back to the path of righteousness and caring, to save them from the path of sin which they have entered, and to bring happiness and fellowship back to North Carolina.”

The movement has captured national attention from media outlets such as the New York Times, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News, to name a few.

“I think it is obvious that this is gaining momentum and that the values that they are speaking to resonate with North Carolinians,” said Randy Voller, Mayor of Pittsboro and Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party.

For now, Mondays in downtown Raleigh will be a little more quiet until the legislature gets back to business.

To hear the radio version, click here:

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/protesters-march-in-epic-end-to-raleigh-moral-mondays/

13th Moral Monday To March On State Capitol Building

Pictured: Protesters at 12th Moral Monday; Photo by Rachel Nash

RALEIGH – Protesters will march to the State Capitol Building for the 13th Moral Monday even though the N.C. General Assembly has adjourned for the summer. Lawmakers ended the session having passed many controversial measures, including sweeping changes to state election laws and tighter abortion regulations for providers.

In protest of “regressive policies” of the Republican-led legislature, 925 people have been arrested since the rallies began in late April.

The past twelve Moral Mondays have culminated inside the General Assembly. Because the building will be empty, the protesters are mobilizing this time around.

NAACP State Chapter President and movement leader Reverend William Barber said Moral Monday will continue across the state after this week . Throughout the month of August, local Moral Mondays will take place in select cities and communities, including one in Asheville called “Mountain Moral Monday.” On August 28, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, the NAACP will hold events in each of the 13 congressional districts in North Carolina.

Monday’s event, deemed a “Mass Social Justice Interfaith Rally,” is happening at 5:00 p.m. on the lawn of Halifax Mall. At 5:30, protesters will set out for the State Capitol. The NAACP has not yet indicated plans for arrests to take place.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/13th-moral-monday-to-march-on-state-capitol-building/

12th Moral Monday To Focus On Voter Rights

RALEIGH – Protesters are set to gather for the 12th Moral Monday in Raleigh to rally for voter rights. 101 people were arrested last week, bringing the running total to more than 800 since the peaceful demonstrations began in late April. Though the arrest totals fluctuate from week to week, the number of protest attendees continues to grow.

Movement leader and NAACP State Chapter President Reverend William Barber says Republican lawmakers are purposefully passing legislation to make it harder for people to vote.

Senate Republicans unveiled a new voter ID bill last week that would limit the forms of photo identification accepted at the polls. The new measure would require voters to show one of seven types of photo identification issued by the government, such as driver’s licenses, passports, non-driver IDs and military or veteran cards. It’s more restrictive than the House version as it would eliminate cards from UNC system colleges, state community colleges, local governments, private employers and law enforcement agencies as acceptable forms of photo identification.

If passed, it would take full effect in the 2016 elections. However, the House isn’t expected to agree to the changes. This will likely cause last-minute debate as lawmakers hope to adjourn session by the end of next week.

Moral Monday meets at 5 p.m. on the lawn of Halifax Mall.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/12th-moral-monday-to-focus-on-voter-rights/

Moral Mon. Rallies For Women & Trayvon Martin

RALEIGH – It was ladies’ day at the 11th  Moral Monday in Raleigh rallying for women’s rights. 101 people were arrested, bringing the running total to more than 800. The protesters, normally focused on the Republican-led policies of the General Assembly, took a pause to remember Trayvon Martin. The 17-year-old was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a Florida man who claimed self defense and was acquitted Saturday.

NAACP State Chapter President and “Civil Disobedience” leader Reverend William Barber explained that he planned to miss Monday’s protest but returned early from the NAACP National Convention after hearing the Zimmerman verdict.

UNC alum Rachael Debnam was there to rally for women’s rights, and also felt a sense of sadness over Zimmerman’s acquittal.

“I find the ruling very frustrating. I feel like it encourages racial profiling. I’m also a teacher, and I think we need to teach our children to think critically and not make snap judgments. The ruling to me says it’s okay to do that, and that’s not a lesson that I am okay with teaching our young people,” Debnam said.

 

Thousands wore pink as they gathered on the lawn of Halifax Mall. Many carried signs in protest of the state House of Representatives passing tighter abortion regulations in a less than transparent manner.

Barber was the only male speaker at the event, sharing the stage with speakers from N.C. Women United, NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina, and N.C. MomsRising.

“The sisters are here, the sisters have been here, and I want everyone to know it’s a pro-choice decision,” Barber said.

UNC alum and teacher Alan Carter attended Moral Monday in protest of cuts to education, but he also champions the efforts of pro-choice activists.

“The same people who come out against abortion are often the same people against stuff like sex education and providing coverage for contraception. At that point, I think it’s pretty clear that you are against women making decisions for controlling their own reproductive health,” Cater said.

Anna Currie of the United Church of Chapel Hill said she wasn’t happy with the abortion regulations that were pushed through the General Assembly so quickly by tacking the restrictions onto unrelated bills.

“First of all the process was terrible because none of us knew about it. But, I was one of the ones who fought for women’s rights. I just say get the government out of our body. That’s my decision, my body, and it should be between myself, my family and my doctors and that’s it,” Currie said.

Fellow UCCH member Sharon Hanson held a pink sign which read, “Women Remember in November.”

“Remember who to vote for and who to not vote for in November,” Hanson said.

The UCCH congregation has been attending the Moral Monday protests each week since the beginning of the movement.

“I just want to support the people that are willing to do civil disobedience. I am so impressed with those people. I would love to do it myself, but my health doesn’t allow it,” Tony Armer, a UCCH member, said.

The protests have gained national attention as well. CNN sent a camera crew to this week’s Moral Monday. The New York Times published an editorial last week on the state GOP’s policies with the headline: “The Decline of North Carolina.” N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory responded with a letter to the editor of the newspaper, defending the right-leaning policies, saying, “This focus on pragmatic problem-solving is now fueling North Carolina’s comeback to prosperity as well.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/11th-moral-mond-rallies-for-womens-rights-trayvon-martin/

11th Moral Monday To Focus On Women’s Rights

RALEIGH – The 11th Moral Monday is set for 5 p.m in Raleigh at Halifax Mall. More than 700 people have been arrested during the weekly protests against the Republican-led General Assembly. Monday’s rally will focus on women’s rights, just days after the state House of Representatives passed a controversial bill tightening abortion restrictions.

It was estimated that last week’s demonstration was the largest crowd so far, though the number of arrests were down from the previous week.

The Moral Monday Protests have gained the attention of national news media outlets such as MSNBC and Fox News. The New York Times published an editorial last week with the headline “The Decline of North Carolina” concerning recent legislation passed by the state and the resulting protests.

Rally leader and NAACP State Chapter President Reverend William Barber announced that voting rights will headline the Moral Monday on July 22. He’s also said the NAACP, on August 28, will hold demonstrations in each of North Carolina’s 13 Congressional Districts in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

 

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/11th-moral-monday-to-focus-on-womens-rights/

Abortion Rights Focus Of 10th Moral Monday

RALEIGH – Protesters rallied for abortion rights at the 10th Moral Monday outside the North Carolina General Assembly, and inside, 64 people were arrested. This coming less than a week after House Bill 695, which calls for tighter abortion laws, pushed through the state Senate in less than 24 hours with little public notice.

The bill would require abortion providers to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgery centers, a move abortion-rights advocates say is designed to shut down providers. Only one clinic in the entire state currently meets those standards.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt was one of more than a thousand who attended this week’s rally.

“It’s really shocking how this General Assembly feels that they can just railroad any respect for democratic process. They haven’t provided people even with the most basic form of notice,” Kleinschmidt said.

Kleinschmidt said he does not support the way in which House Bill 695 was tacked on to another bill and hastily passed in the Senate.

“It makes for a general outrage for the lack of respect for the people of North Carolina, accompanied by a whole array of issues,” he said.

Janet Colm, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, was among those arrested. Since the first Moral Monday in late April, more than 700 people have been arrested in the weekly protests against the legislation of the Republican-led General Assembly.

 

“These attacks on women’s health are dangerous and they are deeply unpopular. That’s why these politicians continue to sneak them in with special sessions, with midnight votes, and without witnesses. The North Carolina General Assembly has tried to bully, shame and dismiss North Carolina women and their families this entire session,” said Mellissa Reed of Planned Parenthood.

Christine Lang, a mom from Chatham County, said the bill was the last straw for her.

“The way they slid those abortion issues through infuriates me, not only for myself but for my daughter,” Lang said.

UNC Senior Carey Hanlin was one of many male students from Chapel Hill who attended the rally in support of women’s reproductive rights.

“Being a feminist and having a lot of female friends who are pro-choice and believe in reproductive rights brought me here. We don’t believe that it is the job of our legislature to be focused on this. Right now, there are bigger issues like the unemployment rate and we’re only going to make it worse now that the Legislature has cut unemployment benefits. That’s what really got me bothered and fired up and ready to go right now,” Hanlin said.

Junior Patrick Mateer came out to his second Moral Monday in support of his friends and his mother, and all of who could be affected by abortion restrictions.

“It’s not just a woman’s issue. We [males] can be allies. If I think a bill is wrong, though it doesn’t affect me, I still feel I should come out and try to change the Legislature’s opinion.” Mateer said.

This Moral Monday also saw a lot of newcomers, including UNC Alum Eric Martin.

“I am in agreement with the other protesters that legislation is infringing on a lot of civil liberties and destroying a lot of programs that are beneficial,” Martin said.

NAACP State chapter president and protest leader Reverend William Barber announced that next Monday’s rally will feature all female speakers. On Monday, July 22, the demonstration will focus on voting rights, education, and criminal justice. Barber also said that on August 28, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the NAACP will hold rallies in each of North Carolina’s 13 Congressional Districts.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/protesters-rally-for-abortion-rights-at-moral-mond/

Accusations Surrounding Moral Mondays Increase

RALEIGH – Nearly 675 people have been arrested so far in the weekly Moral Monday demonstrations against the Republican-led North Carolina General Assembly. Heading into the 10th Moral Monday, protesters will likely be even more exasperated due to the Senate passing House Bill 695 last week.

The legislation requires tighter abortion restrictions in the state, which opponents say drastically diminishes a woman’s reproductive freedom. The bill, which was pushed through the Senate in less than 24 hours with little public notice, returns to the House for a final vote Tuesday morning.

A challenger of the Moral Monday protests, Francis De Luca, president of the conservative think tank group, the Civitas Institute, recently published an article asserting that the Civil Disobedience leader and NAACP state chapter president Reverend William Barber is profiting from the protests.

The headline, which appeared on the Civitias website, read “William Barber Rakes in Taxpayer Dollars – Leads — Moral (no it is) — Money Mondays!”

Barber fired back and denied the claims, saying that De Luca was “desperate to do something to rally their shrinking army” and divert attention away from the issues the NAACP is fighting against.

You can read Barber’s full response below.

Adding another twist in the plot, ministers active in the Moral Monday protests have called off behind-the-scenes talks with Republican legislators, saying one lawmaker broke their agreement when he disclosed the discussions.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Republican Sen. Jeff Tarte of Cornelius initiated talks to try to find common ground between protesters and the General Assembly. A group of 10 lawmakers and about a dozen ministers met twice.

Tarte then talked about the secret meetings to a reporter after being asked his opinion of the weekly protests. Eight ministers responded by signing a statement saying they’re ending the talks because Tarte broke the agreed upon condition to keep them under wraps.

Moral Monday is set for 5 p.m. on the lawn of Halifax Mall across from the General Assembly.

 

Barber’s Statement in Full:

Statement by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II on July 4, 2013 On Last Week’s Attacks by the Civitas Institute

Pastor, Greenleaf Christian Church (DOC), Goldsboro, NC

President, N.C. Conference of NAACP Branches

Chair of the Board, Rebuilding Broken Places, Inc.

While my large extended family, my wonderful church members, and tens of thousands of friends from Moral Mondays celebrated our nation’s birthday, I was obliged to step away from precious time with my immediate family to write this statement in response to an attack launched last week against my church members and myself.  Let me talk about the context of the attacks and then refute them with the facts.

On July 1, 2013, North Carolina became the first state in the nation to cut unemployment insurance payments to 170,000 down-on-their-luck job seekers. Unemployment insurance is a lifeline that can be the difference between eating and starving, shelter and homelessness, hope and despair. The current leadership of the General Assembly and the Governor cut this lifeline, knowing that extending the benefits would have been of zero cost to North Carolina and would have helped save tens of thousands of families from financial ruin.

The N.C. Budget Director, Mr. Art Pope, who is responsible for advising the government in making these moral budget decisions did not say a word about this act of cold disdain toward our neighbors looking for work.  Mr. Pope has, I understand, temporarily relinquished direct control over Civitas and his other right-wing outfits, in order to serve as the Budget Director of North Carolina. The man Mr. Pope hired to run Civitas, one of his main propaganda outfits, was responsible for the most recent attach against my church and myself.  We wonder whether Mr. Pope had time to approve the attack.

Mr. Francis De Luca was apparently upset by the largest turnout yet for Moral Monday on June 24, where thousands of women and workers made a powerful moral and constitutional critique of the extreme right-wing policies of the General Assembly and the Governor.  As I write, thousands of people have attended Moral Mondays and nearly 700 people of all backgrounds and political affiliations have chosen to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience. Because they are without a doubt upset by the fact that an opinion poll shows less than one in five North Carolinians approve of the General Assembly, Civitas and those it supports have engaged in political hysteria calling us among other things “outside agitators” and “morons.”

In the face of a sustained and viable critique further energized last Monday, the same week, the 28th of June, Mr. De Luca, decided to make it Immoral Friday and launched a personal attack against me on the Civitas website, stating in no uncertain terms that I was personally “raking in” great sums of money while leading the “Moral Mondays” protests against the policies of his financial backer, Mr. Pope, and his political allies, Messrs. Tillis, Berger and McCrory.  Since it is impossible for Civitas and its Tea Party allies to answer the moral-constitutional critique, they desperately resort to the Old South tactics of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission.

Tea Party extremists, who take their marching orders and daily talking points by Mr. Pope’s network of propagandists such as Mr. De Luca, are obviously beside themselves with anger.  Every Monday, the people come from all over the state to protest their mean policies.  The people coming to Moral Mondays follow Article 1 Section 12 of our state constitution and their deepest moral values. Their instruction has been quite direct:  Stop the mean, absurd and self-defeating policies of extremism.

Last week, apparently they could take it no longer.  They were desperate to do something to rally their shrinking army, to bolster the spirits of the dour-faced legislators who we see sneaking around the General Assembly, averting their eyes from the thousands of people who are protesting their policies.

Now if Mr. De Luca, using Mr. Pope’s money and network, were just attacking me, I would take comfort in the scripture’s reminder to the victims of such attacks:

Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: 

for theirs is the kingdom of  heaven. 

Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, 

and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 

Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: 

for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.          Matthew 5:10-12

But Mr. De Luca and, we suspect, others in the highest levels of the Pope network, did not limit his attack to just myself.  Instead they chose to insinuate the noble efforts of our church members and other supporters were working with me on what Mr. De Luca’s concocted “scam.”  Because the attack was caused by my actions, I am obligated to fend off the wolves from my flock and set the record straight.

            Greenleaf’s Church’s History, Character, and Missions:  The church I pastor is made up of laborers, mothers, fathers, senior citizens, young people, veterans, active duty members of the air force stationed in Wayne County, teachers, carpenters, disabled, white and black people.  Our church has always been involved in community ministries, long before the congregation called me to serve them.

Greenleaf Christian Church, a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination, is a congregational church (http://www.disciples.org/).  Greenleaf was founded by former slaves after liberation by the Army of the United States of America in 1865.  After 130 years of struggle to maintain and develop a strong church in Goldsboro, in 1995, the congregation took a long hard look at our surrounding community and asked ourselves, “Why are we here?  What should we do about the context in which our church sits?”

Our answers to these questions led our church, located at 2110 N. William Street in Goldsboro, to invest over $1 million of our hard-earned wages to purchase land and a building that was an eyesore across the street from our church.  We combined our investment with grants and private business investments to create a not-for-profit corporation, which we named Rebuilding Broken Places.  We dedicated it to the social, educational and economic needs of our community.

The Corporation’s Board is diverse.  No member, including me, receives any compensation. We don’t receive a single dime from the services we provide to our community.  NO money comes into the coffers of our church.  RBPCDC is audited annually by a highly respected auditing firm.  Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and those who have given up on politics, have generously supported our efforts.  Private businesses and banks have supported our efforts to revitalize the community.  We welcome visitors to share their thoughts, work, and generosity with us as we do what we believe is our moral duty: to look out for the least of these. Theologically we believe people of faith must do this by developing opportunity and community uplift as well by denouncing policies that contradict a commitment to justice, fairness, and the ethic of love for all.  And we invite others to come and see what we have tried to do.  It has always been public. In fact our vision will be featured in two weeks at the General Convention of the Christian Church.

Since its founding over 16 years ago, Rebuilding Broken Places CDC, a separate entity from the church but inspired by the church, has initiated or inspired millions of dollars of developments, creating jobs and expanding the property tax base of Goldsboro and Wayne County. Through our FAITH FORCE INITIATIVE (Faithfully Asserting Initiative to Help Families Organize Resources for Community Economic Development), RBPCDC has participated in building through partnerships with families, nonprofits, government, developers, and banks more than 60 affordable single family homes for people of low to moderate income. Our Greenleaf Grace Village is a 41 unit home for low-income seniors. And we built and run a 90-student preschool academy.

Also out of the Rebuilding Broken Places center, flows several of our many community programs including:

  • STOP THE FUNERAL Initiative, which collaborates with law enforcement and others to address drug and gang violence in our communities;
  • Computer Classes through Wayne Community College to close the digital divide, free for seniors;
  • Job preparation training;
  • Financial Education Classes;
  • Home Ownership Classes;
  • Micro-Enterprise Loan Facilitators;
  • Diversity Training for organizations, state and local government including local sheriff’s offices and other agencies;
  • Willing to Touch Ministry for friends, families, and victims of HIV Aids;
  • Sickle Cell education programs.

We are now envisioning and developing a Second Chance program facility for training formerly incarcerated men and women in culinary arts, landscaping and tech jobs.  Our Rebuilding Broken Places website has more information.

These are the facts, Mr. De Luca.  I regret you did not take the time to investigate your subject.

But, propagandists are not interested in facts.  They have an agenda.  Their agenda is absurd, harmful, unconstitutional, immoral, and takes our state toward an economic and social disaster. They promote this agenda while deflecting the public’s attention away from acts such as abandoning our current highly effective earned income tax credits for low-income families, rejecting federal Medicaid funds for seniors, who soon will have to choose between a meal and their medicines, and cutting off unemployment insurance payments.  They are trying to further tilt the playing field toward the rich, making it harder for the poor, the out-of work, seniors and minorities to participate in our democracy through voting.  Since they cannot defend their record, they resort to personal attacks on their critics.  But they will not attack my church members or our supporters without a response.  Whether or not they were approved or condoned by Mr. Pope, the financial backer of Civitas, these attacks are pitiful.

Mr. Pope’s right-wing attack machine’s desperation is showing. Mr. Pope, Mr. De Luca, Gov. McCrory, Mr. Tillis, and Mr. Berger and every politician regardless of party would do well to listen to what the Holy Scriptures have said for the past three thousand years; what our constitution has required of us for the past 150 years; and what we have been reminding North Carolina for the past nine Mondays, about public morality.  We invite them to join us on Moral Monday 10.  And when their wrecking crew finally decides to go home, leaving our state in a mess, we invite them to listen to us when we go tell it on the mountain, in the temples, in the churches, in the mosques, in every community meeting and rally across the state of North Carolina until all God’s people get the message of Isaiah 10–no matter how many pitiful attacks they make:

Woe to those who make unjust laws,

To those who issue oppressive decrees,

To deprive the poor of their rights

And withhold justice from the oppressed of my people,

Making widows their prey

And robbing the fatherless.

###

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/accusations-and-frustrations-surrounding-moral-mondays-increase/

9th Moral Mon. Rallies Against Unemployment Cuts

170,000 North Carolinians could lose their unemployment benefits by year’s end

RALEIGH – For nine weeks, the North Carolina NAACP and other activists have gathered in Raleigh for Moral Mondays, to protest what they call the “regressive policies” of the NC General Assembly. More than 80 were arrested Monday, bringing the running total to almost 700. Many rallied for the roughly 70,000 North Carolinians who lost their long-term unemployment benefits this week due to a decision by NC lawmakers.

MaryBe McMillan, the Secretary and Treasurer of the NC AFL-CIO, partnered with the NAACP recently and has spoken at several Moral Mondays. She fought a long battle to try to convince state leaders to extend long-term unemployment benefits.

“Today is a really sad day. North Carolina officially became the cruelest state in the nation now that we’ve walked away from these benefits. We are the only state to do this, the only state to kick the long-term unemployed to the curb. I think what this legislature has done is indefensible,” McMillan said.

When the recession hit in 2008, the state was forced to borrow from the federal government as unemployment claims increased.

North Carolina was one of many states facing similar debt, but the only state to choose this course of action.  Unemployment benefits are slated to expire across the country at the end of this year.

“They [the unemployed] are trying to wrap their heads around why in the world their legislature would do this to them. Why would we turn down money that wouldn’t have cost our state a dime? Why would we let what will eventually be 170,000 families suffer? It just doesn’t make any sense,” McMillan said.

Hannah Pinckney McManus, Pastor of Evergreen United Methodist in Chatham County, was one of those arrested Monday night.

“I’m scared to death! I’ve never done anything like this in my life. But my faith will not let me stay silent. It’s not enough just to speak-up. I have to do something,” Pinckney McManus said.

Pinckney McManus said the decision to cut-off the employment benefits for so many North Carolinians pushed her to take a stand.

‘The folks that come to our food pantry on Tuesday night, their suffering is immeasurable. It goes far beyond them just having enough food to eat.  I don’t know what else we can do as a church to help them when they are losing what little bit of income they have,” Pinckney said.

 

 

Pinckney McManus’s daughter, Elizabeth, attended the protest to support her mother. The undergraduate said she is worried for when the time comes for her to enter the work force.

“I find that to be traumatizing for the future of our state and for people my age coming into the job market, knowing that there’s no security blanket offered by our government,” Elizabeth McManus said.

Her fiancé, Jonathan Dail, is a recent graduate of UNC and has attended two Moral Mondays.

‘What hits home to me is the fact that public education and liberal arts education is being cut and that impacts a lot of people,” Dail said.

Pastor Richard Edens of the United Church of Chapel Hill was arrested Monday evening. His wife and fellow pastor Jill Edens was arrested on the seventh Moral Monday. Jill Edens was there to support her husband. Members of the United Church of Chapel Hill have been attending the protests since the beginning of the movement in late April.

“I think people of faith think about what is moral a lot, and apparently some of our representatives are a little short on that,” said UCCH member Henry Lister.

Carrboro Alderman Michelle Johnson also attended the rally. She was arrested on  June 3rd’s Mega Moral Monday. For the past two weeks, she joined a group to meditate on the lawn of Halifax Mall.  Johnson said it’s a way to peacefully protest and continue to support the effort.

Moral Monday

Johnson and others meditate in peaceful protest

The protests are garnering national attention. Writers from the Nation Magazine and Market Place Magazine were there Monday. The Huffington Post and Time Magazine have published pieces about the demonstrations as well. Last week, MSNBC and Fox News sent camera crews.

McMillian said though tough times are ahead, she has confidence in the Moral Monday Movement.

“The weather wasn’t great, but still the crowd is out here, and they are fired up. They are ready to take action, whether it is within their communities or whether it is turning out the vote next November. We together have this power and we will continue to move our state forward,” she said.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/9th-moral-monday-rallies-against-unemployment-cuts/

CH Church Members Take A Stand In Moral Monday

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 outsideHe 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.”

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/united-church-of-ch-members-take-a-stand-in-7th-moral-monday/

Leaders From Various Sides Of Local Gov’t Support Raleigh Protests

ORANGE COUNTY – Local leaders in Orange County have been outspoken about their support for North Carolina NAACP’s Moral Monday protests, rallying against recent legislation coming out of the state General Assembly.

Orange County Commissioner Bernadette Pelissier has been in attendance of several protests. She says what’s going on inside the state legislature makes it important for community leaders to break their silence.

“I think it sends a message to the public that they really care about what happens to the citizens not just of our town or our county, but through out the state,”  Pelissier said.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton was the first arrested at last week’s demonstration. Carrboro Aldermen Damon Seils, Michelle Johnson, Sammy Slade, and Chapel Hill Town Council member Donna Bell would follow.

A Facebook page with more than 700 members was created to mobilize local residents to make the trek to Raleigh to participate in the protests. Chilton has been a visible presence on social media site.

Chapel Hill Carrboro City School Board of Education members Mia Burroughs and James Barrett have also joined the effort. Both were at the protest Monday.

“Orange County certainly has an amazing progressive tradition going back to the protests again the speaker’s ban several decades ago so I’m not surprised. We are leaders in this kind of thing,” Burroughs said.

Orange County Commissioners Penny Rich and Mark Dorosin have also attended the demonstrations, as well as Senator Ellie Kinnaird, who represents Orange and Chatham Counties.

Local leaders have said they will continue to support the protests as long as the movement continues, or until the state government begins to listen.

http://chapelboro.com/news/local-government/leaders-from-various-sides-of-local-govt-support-raleigh-protests/