RALEIGH-  This week’s Moral Monday protest at the General Assembly was the largest since the Forward Together movement launched this spring. Now organizers want to take the protests to a new level.

To springboard off the success of the Moral Monday protests, North Carolina NAACP leader Reverend William Barber says his group and others will launch the next phase of the Forward Together movement with Witness Wednesdays, starting this Wednesday with the commemoration of the assassination of civil rights leader Medgar Evers.

“On that Wednesday at 12 noon, at the General Assembly, we will also announce the launching of Voter Registration Summer, a new kind of freedom summer right here in North Carolina,” says Barber. “We intend to fight, we intend to stand. We’re going to challenge them morally, we’re going to challenge them legally, and we’re going to challenge them at the voting box. The one thing we’re not going to do is go backwards, because our motto is “Forward Together, Not One Step Back.”

The Moral Monday protests are designed to call attention to a host of economic and educational policies sponsored by the Republican-controlled legislature that Barber says are harmful to the majority of North Carolinians.

“Their policies are constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible and economically insane,” says Barber.

To date, thousands have protested and more than 300 have been arrested for civil disobedience, including Carrboro’s mayor and several members of the Board of Aldermen.

Governor Pat McCrory has criticized the protesters, saying they are wasting taxpayer money by clogging the court system with frivolous arrests. But Barber says the right to assemble is constitutionally protected.

Article 1, Section 12 of the state constitution says we have a right to do exactly what we’re doing,” says Barber. “They don’t have to arrest us. The Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tem don’t have to order the arrests. But we’re not going to give up our constitutional rights simply because they do order the arrests.”

The protests will continue this Monday at the General Assembly, led by a coalition of clergy from across the state.

Click here to listen to Friday’s teleconference in which members of the Forward Together movement announce the next phase of the movement.