The Moral Monday protests in North Carolina appeared to gain steam this week as 84 people were arrested this week for protesting against proposed policies by the state’s legislature, taking the number of those arrested to about 500 people.
The protests, organized by the North Carolina office the NAACP, have become a nationally-watched weekly demonstration against proposed budget cuts and changes to voting laws. This week, more than 4,000 protesters participated in the demonstration.
For nearly two months, an increasingly large crowd of demonstrators have gathered at the state capital to protest a number of policy decisions by the North Carolina General Assembly. The arrests are designed to raise awareness of everything from cuts in preschool funding to restrictions on voting periods.
By getting arrested at the General Assembly, the protesters are seeking to call attention to a number of policies put in place by Pat McCrory, the Republican governor of the state. They say they are angered by the cut in the payroll tax credit for more than 900,000 poor and working people in North Carolina as well as a rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage for more than 500,000 residents who don’t have health insurance.
This week’s protest had an additional aspect of many of the demonstrators coming to the state legislative building holding signs showing the names of their hometowns or their zip codes.
That was a direct response to comments made by McCrory, who told a group of fellow Republicans that the Moral Monday demonstrators were largely “outsiders.”
The Rev. William Barber III, the head of the North Carolina NAACP, said that the demonstrators are a racially diverse group and they are overwhelmingly residents of the state.
In fact, a researcher from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill attended the protest and did a sampling of the demonstrators, according the Charlotte Observer. The researcher did a sampling of 316 protesters and found that five were from out of state. Also, the researcher said that 79 percent of the protesters were white, 17 percent African-American, six percent Hispanic and the rest were Asian.
“The momentum is definitely picking up,” Barber said, in an interview with BET.com. “We have business leaders going to jail along with grass-roots people. We have doctors and nurses protesting alongside of people who need health insurance.”
The comments by the governor calling protesters outsiders have helped to galvanize people, Barber said.
“His insult has actually inspired the movement,” he said.
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(Photo: AP Photo/The News & Observer, Chris Seward)