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A 'Nonviolent Army of Love' Rises in North Carolina to Face Down Rightwing's Assault on Progress
Movement gathers around 'Moral Monday' protests aimed at fighting off GOP takeover
"We’re going to continue our acts of civil disobedience because the General Assembly has made a cruel attack on the most vulnerable people in this state,” declared Rev. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP.
A crowd of hundreds assembled outside the state's General Assembly building in Raleigh on Monday evening in a massive act of civil disobedience—the fourth consecutive week of demonstrations dubbed 'Moral Mondays,' spearheaded by the civil rights group.
"What started with tens of supporters and 17 arrests," reports the Associated Press, "has attracted hundreds of people of different age groups, races and professions to protest the policies of the General Assembly."
The number of those being arrested has grown each week as well, with 57 protesters arrested during Monday's action bringing the total number to 153.
Individuals are risking arrest to draw attention to the policies of GOP Governor Pat McCrory and the conservative-run General Assembly—including cuts to social programs, education reforms, a rejection of federal funding to expand Medicaid coverage, and changes to voting laws—which protesters call "an assault" on the state's poor and unemployed.
In response, the NAACP has amassed, what Barber refers to as, a growing "nonviolent volunteer army of love" to stand up against the "escalating Republican assault," writes local journalist, Bob Geary.
"We hope that, through civil disobedience, they will change, they will repent, they will turn around," Barber said, of the state's Republican majority. "But if they don't, we will assure that what they do will not be done in the dark."
"The people getting arrested in waves at the General Assembly are carrying a message from many thousands of North Carolinians," said an editorial Charlotte Observer. "They represent not only those who need government services, but those who believe the legislature is breaking the traditions and reversing the gains of a great and enlightened state."
"In the people’s house, such messengers ought not be arrested," it continues. "They should be heard and heeded."
According to Barber, who spoke with BET, the NAACP plans to escalate the actions in the coming weeks and have outlined a 25-county tour to raise awareness of the discriminatory policies.
“We have to continue this,” Barber said. “This is a movement, not just a one-day event. We’re going to work to guarantee that this state knows how regressive this legislature is. That way, when 2014 comes, the people of this state can vote in an appropriate way.”