RALEIGH – With Moral Mondays demonstrations entering their sixth week, protestors like Rebecca Putterman warned against the political extremism the General Assembly’s current course represents.
“All of the bills that have been bandied about or passed over the past year or two, they are too far one way or another,” Putterman said. “We really need to meet in the middle.”
Putterman, a recent UNC graduate, believes that state representatives need to find a balance between what they want and what their constituents want.
“The folks that were elected, they want to vote. And they have their time to be in the senate, to be in the house and pass the bills that they find important. But that doesn’t mean that they stop listening to their constituents,” Putterman said.
As the protests continue, new developments in the General Assembly are a good sign, according to Putterman.
“The house and the senate are now split on their budget,” Putterman said. “One isn’t as far-right as the other, and that’s encouraging. There’s a discussion happening.”
More than 100 people were arrested in last week’s Moral Monday protests, including Carrboro mayor Mark Chilton, along with Chapel Hill Town Council member Donna Bell, and Carrboro Aldermen Damon Seils, Michelle Johnson, and Sammy Slade.
“These Moral Mondays messages are being taken out not just in front of the legislature, but really exposing the legislature in many different venues across the state,” Thompson said.
Despite the size and attention the protests have garnered, Thompson does not believe Moral Mondays will sway her local representatives.
“I don’t have any confidence that they’re going to change their position. I think they’re too closely tied to corporations that, to me, own their bodies and souls,” Thompson said.
Thompson, in addition to being a part of the elderly activist group Raging Grannies, is a member of the American Federation of Teachers, and Thompson is very outspoken on the General Assembly’s plans for education in the state.
“What they’re doing to public education is just a stab to the constitutional right to public education, it is a stab at our teachers who haven’t gotten a raise in four to five years and it is most importantly a stab at our children by taking money away from public education for vouchers,” Thompson said.
While listing the grievances the protestors have with the General Assembly’s current agenda, Thompson also listed ways the state’s government could help the community.
“If we had a progressive tax, there are ways of securing raises for our working people, our public servants, raises to save our public education and give benefits to all of our children instead of giving it to vouchers,” Thompson said.