WAKE COUNTY – A Wake County judge found North Carolina NAACP President William Barber and 11 other Moral Monday protesters guilty of second-degree trespassing and violating building rules while rallying at the state legislature in April.
District Court Judge Joy Hamilton issued her ruling Wednesday after a two-day trial. Defense lawyers argued that the protesters’ actions were protected by both the U.S. and state constitutions, the Associated Press reported.
The 12 defendants in court this week were among the first of more than 900 people arrested during the weekly Moral Monday peaceful protests against legislation passed by Republican-controlled General Assembly during the summer.
Hamilton sentenced the defendants to pay a $100 fine and court costs. The defense gave immediate notice of appeal for the two convictions.
A handful of protesters have been convicted and are appealing, and a few others were acquitted. Charges against dozens of protesters were dropped after they agreed to perform community service under a deal offered by Wake County prosecutors.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/barber-11-others-guilty-moral-monday-protests/
WAKE COUNTY - NAACP state chapter president Reverend William Barber and 11 other Moral Monday protesters were back in court Tuesday on charges of disrupting lawmakers during an April rally inside the state Legislative Building.
The group was the first of more than 900 people arrested during the weekly Moral Monday peaceful protests against legislation passed by Republican-controlled General Assembly during the summer.
The protesters were charged with trespassing, failing to disperse and violating Legislative Building rules.
One day of testimony in the trials of Rev. William Barber and the other 11 protesters was held in October, and the trials are expected to continue Wednesday, multiple news outlets reported.
General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver took to the witness stand Tuesday morning, explaining the rules about gatherings at the Legislative Building, WRAL reported. Defense attorneys argued that the rules, which were drafted in 1987, are vague and can be interpreted differently.
A handful of protesters have been convicted and are appealing, and a few others were acquitted. Charges against dozens of protesters were dropped after they agreed to perform community service under a deal offered by Wake County prosecutors.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/naacps-william-barber-back-court-moral-monday-charges/
RALEIGH – Moral Monday returned to Raleigh this week, as close to 150 people gathered for a somber march around N.C. Governor’s Pat McCrory’s Mansion to protest what they call restrictive voting laws passed by the Republican-led legislature.
The Governor was out-of-town, but still the demonstration went on.
UNC junior Dylan Su-Chun Mott spoke at the rally Monday, representing the university group, Student Power.
“There are a lot of regressive actions being taken toward students in general to break up really a liberal, or progressive, voting block in this state,” Mott said.
The protesters marched down Wilmington Street in Raleigh, stopping traffic, and then circled once around the Governor’s Mansion. The Associated Press reported that McCrory was attending a Republican Governors Association meeting in Charleston, S.C.
The protesters carried with them several empty caskets to remember the four little girls killed in the bombing of a Birmingham, Ala., church 50 years ago this week. The rally ended with a candle vigil in Halifax Mall.
Reverend William Barber, NAACP state chapter president and Moral Monday leader, said the blood of those “young martyrs” helped make voting possible for everyone. He said those rights should not be restricted.
“The same blood says you can turn around. You may not, but you can,” Barber said. “You could engage in virtue of repentance, Governor. You could undo what you have done. You could hear the cries of the blood and say that you were wrong. If you did that, this same blood could unite us.”
Chapel Hill native Morgan McDonnell, a freshman at N.C. State, has been to four Moral Mondays. She said election law changes, such as the requirement for photo identification and the end to same-day voter registration, purposely makes it harder for college students and other groups to vote.
“Like Reverend Barber said, just because the Governor is not here, doesn’t mean the problem is not here,” McDonnell said. “If I could speak to Governor McCrory, I would ask him why is he doing this. There are a lot of people who would like to ask him a lot of questions.”
The turnout for Monday’s protest was much smaller than the hundreds or thousands that typically rallied during the legislative session over the summer from late April until July. Those weekly protests resulted in more than 930 arrests inside the General Assembly.
“It is a lot smaller than other Moral Mondays, but I am so happy to see people out here,” McDonnell said. “It just feels really good to know that other people care about my future as well.”
While the weekly protests in Raleigh were on a hiatus, the movement went on the road, holding rallies in cities across North Carolina.
Ann Humphreys, a Carrboro resident and Moral Monday regular, said she feels encouraged that the peaceful protests are continuing.
Another NAACP protest was held simultaneously in Rockingham County Monday evening.
“I want to see it build. I’m so grateful that the momentum has continued,” Humphreys said. “I was amazed by how [the Moral Monday protests] built over the summer months and how much happened in such a short time.”
The NAACP issued a call to action for college students in the state to get involved with civil engagement and also announced that plans for future Moral Mondays were in the works.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/32758/
RALEIGH – The N.C. NAACP’s Moral Monday protests return to Raleigh this week after holding the peaceful demonstrations in other cities across the state.
This time, college students will lead the rally to protest of legislation passed by the Republican-led legislature and Governor Pat McCrory, which they say hurts education and voting rights.
Protesters are set to meet at 4:30 p.m. at the First Baptist Church on Wilmington St. in downtown Raleigh and will then head to the Governor’s Mansion at 5:30 following a rally led by students of the organizations such as NC NAACP Youth & College Division, NC Student Power Union, Cause and NC Vote Defenders.
“Young people have always been an active and important part of the Forward Together Movement,” said Reverend William Barber, NAACP State Chapter President and Moral Monday movement leader, in a statement. “As school begins across the state, they will continue to organize and build this movement in response to the immoral and unconstitutional attacks on student voting rights and public education. This is a Movement, not a moment!”
The Moral Monday demonstrations, which were held over the summer in Raleigh, saw more than 900 arrests in the General Assembly.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/moral-monday-returns-to-raleigh/
CHAPEL HILL – With court appearances continuing for those arrested in the Moral Monday protests, lawyers for the arrestees argue that their clients had a right to be protesting under our constitution.
Civil rights attorney and member of the North Carolina NAACP’s leadership council, Al McSurely, says he’s represented two groups of three arrested protesters so far in their first court appearances and has made that same constitutional argument before the judges.
“Both times, the judges were very open to that argument and lifted the restrictions on my clients’ ability to go back and see Senator Kinnaird or Representative Insko,” McSurely says.
McSurely is referring to a restriction placed on those arrested at the Moral Mondays protests that barred them from returning to the state capital, which he previously said was “patently unconstitutional.”
“Some of us believe strongly that both the federal and state constitution only have any meaning when they are tested,” McSurely says.
More than 900 protesters were arrested at the state capital, charged with crimes varying from trespassing, failure to disperse, and holding a sign inside the capital building.
With that high level of defendants, with around 700 being arrested in just the past weeks, McSurely says court proceedings could easily stretch into December and January.
“I don’t have any estimate, and I don’t think the D.A.’s office has any estimate of when all of the first appearances will be over,” McSurely says.
Moral Monday protesters will no longer be meeting at the state capital, with some protesters and McSurely himself going to a gathering in Asheville this past Monday.
Reverend William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP and one of the main speakers at many of the Moral Monday rallies, will be giving a speech related to the Moral Monday movement in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of the March on Washington speech, August 28.
Some residents of Chicago are also starting their own protests and are calling the action Moral Monday as well.http://chapelboro.com/news/crime/attorney-representing-moral-monday-arrestees-speaks-out/