Moral Monday News Conference To Highlight Workers’ Rights

Rev. Barber addressing the crowd in front of the Capital Building; Photo by Alex Curley

RALEIGH – Moral Monday returns this week to Raleigh for the 16th installment of the peaceful events, but it won’t be in the form of a mass gathering this time.

The N.C. NAACP and the labor community are set to hold a news conference on Labor Day for workers’ rights.

Activists say they are upset over legislation passed by the General Assembly which they believe hurts workers.

Speakers at the event include Reverend William Barber, NAACP State Chapter President and leader of the Forward Together Movement; MaryBe McMillan of the AFL-CIO; and Baldimar Velasquez of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee.

The news conference will be held at 11:00 a.m. at the N.C. AFL-CIO headquarters at 1408 Hillsborough St.

“On Labor Day the Forward Together Movement will join the labor community to stand united against anti-worker legislation passed by the extreme and immoral North Carolina General Assembly,” said Barber said in a statement. “We believe that all workers deserve a living wage, benefits, a safe workplace, and a voice on the job, especially today when working people are struggling more than ever.”

Barber will also announce plans at the news conference for potential protests to take place this week as the General Assembly prepares to reconvene Tuesday for a special veto session.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/moral-monday-news-conference-to-highlight-workers-rights/

CH To Commemorate March On Washington

Pictured: Moral Monday March on July 29

CHAPEL HILL – Events have been taking place in the nation’s capitol and across the country to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. Here in North Carolina, the state NAACP’s “Taking the Dream Home” Rally, happening simultaneously in all 13 congressional districts on Wednesday, is coming to Chapel Hill.

Attorney and activist Tye Hunter of Chapel Hill is speaking at the rally in front of the Peace & Justice Plaza on Franklin Street. Hunter will be joined by other speakers such as former state senator Ellie Kinnaird, Dr. Bill Turner, and Paige Johnson of Planned Parenthood.

“We hope to be and certainly the NAACP hopes to be a continuation of that struggle which started a long time ago and has made some progress but still has a lot of progress to make.” Hunter says.

Hunter explains the rally is also a continuation of the Moral Monday protests, led by NAACP State Chapter President Reverend William Barber. The series of demonstrations, which happened over the summer in Raleigh, and then in cities across North Carolina, saw more than 900 arrests in the General Assembly. Hunter was arrested during the second Moral Monday on May 6.

Thousands gathered at those rallies, and he hopes the same energy will carry over to Wednesday’s event.

“I think it is just very important that we continue,” he says. “This is what Reverend Barber always says, that ‘we are a movement and not a moment.’”

Hunter says his talk will center on criminal justice in North Carolina, specifically the repeal of the Racial Justice Act. The 2009 law allowed convicted murderers to reduce a death sentence to life in prison if they could prove that race played a major role in their cases, but was overturned in June. Hunter says statistical data proved that it was necessary to maintain fairness

“It’s pretty outrageous that the legislature’s reaction to all that is to say, ‘Well, let’s do away with that [the Racial Justice Act],’” Hunter says. “So we found we had a problem and the legislature said let’s do away with it.’”

Other topics slated for discussion include voting rights and economic justice. For more information about the rally happening at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Courthouse on Franklin Street, click here.

http://chapelboro.com/news/news-around-time/ch-hosting-rally-to-commemorate-march-on-washington/

Asheville To Host ‘Mountain Moral Monday’

Pictured: Moral Monday March; Photo by Rachel Nash

ASHEVILLE -Downtown Raleigh will be a little more quiet as the Moral Monday movement has hit to the road for a tour of the state, in protest of legislation passed by N.C. Governor Pat McCrory and the Republican-led General Assembly. Led by the state NAACP, the first stop is Asheville for Mountain Moral Monday. Reverend William Barber will be speaking at the event.

During the 13 weeks of protesting in the capital city, thousands attended the demonstrations and 925 people were arrested. The movement has captured national attention from media outlets such as the New York Times, MSNBC, CNN and Fox News, to name a few.

The NAACP also will also hold demonstrations in each of North Carolina’s 13 Congressional Districts in honor of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington on August 28.

 

 

 

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/asheville-to-host-mountain-moral-monday/

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 Rallies For Voter Rights

Photo by Rachel Nash: Michelle Johnson, of the Carrboro BoA, meditating in peaceful protest 

RALEIGH – The 12th Moral Monday in Raleigh focused on voting rights in response to the proposed changes to state election laws, which many have said will harm voter rights. Seventy-three people were arrested, bringing the running total to 925 since the rallies began in late April.

“I think every citizen should be guaranteed the right to vote. Requiring an I.D. is not difficult for many of us, but it is for some. I don’t think it’s fair to suppress anybody,” said Chapel Hill resident Rif Riddick.

As this legislative session comes to a close, the N.C. NAACP said that won’t stop them from taking their protests across the state. Moral Monday convenes next week on Fayetteville Street for the march to the State Capitol Building. Throughout the month of August, local Moral Mondays will take place in select cities and communities across the state, including one in the works for 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.

 

It was likely the last time this legislative session that the Moral Monday crowd would gather inside the General Assembly, in protest of what they call the “regressive policies” of the Republican-led legislature.

State House leaders moved their Monday night session to 4 p.m., three hours earlier than normal, leaving the protesters in a mostly empty building. General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver announced that the building would be closing and said those who remained would be arrested. The protesters kept going nevertheless.

Before the event moved inside, Pastor Richard Edens of the United Church of Chapel Hill was one of more than a thousand rallying for voting rights on the lawn of Halifax Mall. Edens was arrested on July 1.

“With this country, with this state, with our community, it is supposed to be something that is expansive and inclusive. What we have seen with our legislature over this past year is something that has been exclusive and is narrowing its interests and keeping people out. Voting rights is just one thing where they are limiting who can participate,” Edens said.

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 I.D.s, 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.

Matt Hughes, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, said he is worried about the negative impact this legislation might have on future elections.

“I think it is clear that this is being done to prevent students from being able to easily access the polls. I think that’s because the belief is that those are liberal voters, and they’ll be voting for Democrats and to me it is trying to play on an unleveled playing field,” Hughes said.

Hughes said he was also concerned about proposed legislation that would shrink the early voting period, end Sunday voting, and end same-day voter registration.

The election law changes normally would have been subject to authorization under the Voting Rights Act, but the Supreme Court’s recent decision exempted North Carolina from federal review until a new process is created by Congress.

Another issue against which the state NAACP is taking court action is the redistricting maps for North Carolina’s legislative and congressional seats drawn by Republicans in the Legislature.  State Democrats and others challenged the redistricting, calling it racial gerrymandering. Earlier this month, though, state Superior Court judges rejected their arguments and upheld the legislative and congressional boundaries.

“I do believe that the judges who ruled on the redistricting case are really off base. The maps that were drawn do not respect county lines like they are supposed to. The districts have really been gerrymandered and they really have to be looked at and re-drawn,” Hughes said.

NAACP State Chapter President and Moral Monday leader Reverend William Barber announced that the civil rights group will appeal the court’s decision.

“This legislature has eviscerated past commendable policies and taken us in the wrong direction, harming low-income and disadvantaged people in so many different ways,” said Jim Kocher, a resident of Chapel Hill for 30 years.

 

Moral Monday; Photo by Rachel Nash

Moral Monday; Photo by Rachel Nash

View of Moral Monday from atop the General Assembly

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/12th-moral-monday-rallies-for-voter-rights/

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/

Carter Wrenn & Gary Pearce Weigh In On Moral Mondays

Pictured: Moral Monday

CHAPEL HILL – We’ve heard from the outspoken Moral Monday protesters as they gather in Raleigh each week to rally against the policies of the Republican-led General Assembly. WCHL’s D.G. Martin spoke with Carter Wrenn and Gary Pearce, two experts on opposite ends of the political spectrum, to get their take on the protests.

Together the two run a blog together called “Talking About Politics.”  Wrenn, who’s a Republican, and Pearce, who’s a Democrat, met in 1984 during the epic U.S. Senate battle between Jesse Helms and Jim Hunt. Wrenn worked for Helms and Pearce worked for Hunt.

Wrenn said Moral Monday leader and NAACP State Chapter President Reverend William Barber has become the face of the Democratic Party in North Carolina.

“I don’t think Moral Monday has contributed any sort of sensible political debate. I don’t want to sound harsh, but William Barber is pure demagogue. This isn’t a debate, this is a political rant,” Wrenn said.

Wrenn said Barber has used the strategy of “out-howling” everyone to get his point across.

“The theory is that as that howl reaches through the ether and the internet and people hear somebody hollering, that’s helping them a lot politically. I’m sort of inclined to think that hearing that sort of hollering, you shut down; you just block it out,” Wrenn said.

Pearce however felt differently about Barber’s leadership.

“One man’s demagogue is another man’s leader with courage and conviction. At least he’s had the courage to stand up and say some things, and he has hit a responsive chord,” Pearce said.

Pearce said this mid-year swing in momentum is a positive sign for the state’s Democrats.

“There’s a mobilizing, energizing element to this. Remember in 2010 all the energy and protests were coming from the Tea Party and then we had a very Tea Party dominated election in 2010. I’m hoping this energy translates to next year,” Pierce said.

These comments were made during the recording of Who’s Talking with D.G. Martin. To hear more from Wrenn and Pearce, tune in for the full show Saturday and Sunday at 6:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m., and 11:00 p.m. on 97.9 FM WCHL and Chapelboro.com.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/carter-wrenn-and-gary-pearce-weigh-in-on-moral-mondays/

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/