Almost 4,000 North Carolinians stormed the state house Monday demonstrating that, despite repeated attacks by the GOP-led legislature, the opposition is growing 'ever fiercer and stronger.'
Marking the tenth "Moral Monday" action, participants rallied in the capital against an anti-choice abortion law that passed the state Senate last week in a GOP 'sneak attack' on reproductive rights.
Organizers estimated that roughly 4,000 people had joined the action in "one of the largest" demonstrations yet. 64 people were arrested for refusing to leave the state house, bringing the total arrests since the protests began in April to over 700.
"I want these politicians to see that with every attack, they are creating a fierce and ever stronger opposition" - Janet Colm, Planned Parenthood
"This state has gone to hell and it's hurting my family," said Tanya Glover, a N.C. resident, as she lined up to be arrested alongside her father.
Fellow participant and Asheville city councilman Cecil Bothwell, who arrived with 100 of his constituents, expressed his grievance with the GOP saying, "It amazes me that they claim they don't want government intervening in health care issues, yet they want to tell women what to do with their bodies."
Among those arrested was President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina Janet Colm. In an op-ed published by the Huffington Post, Colm explained why she took part in the action, writing, "This is how we make our state better."
"It's not just that they are playing with women's lives," she added. "I want these politicians to see that with every attack, they are creating a fierce and ever stronger opposition. We're making it impossible for politicians to ignore us, no matter how hard they try."
The overwhelming number of arrests has raised questions about the legality of police officers' motivations. House Democratic Leader Larry Hall was prompted to ask, "Who do they work for? They work for whoever is in the majority in the House and the Senate, who are responsible for the messages sent to them from the top.”
The Nation reporter Allison Kilkenny elaborated on this, writing, "all of this raises the question: what's the point of living in a democracy with a First Amendment if lawmakers are going to sneak legislation through in the middle of the night and have concerned citizens arrested when they try to object?"
Moral Monday organizers say that next week's action will focus on women's issues and will be led by female speakers.
Lucia Brown is a summer editorial intern at Common Dreams.