North Carolinians gathered this week for the 12th Moral Monday protest, which focused on a highly restrictive voter ID law and a budget full of "voodoo economics," both proposed by the GOP-dominated House and Senate.
73 people were arrested during the action, bringing the total amount of arrests since the demonstrations began in April to over 900.
Although the usual Monday night legislative session was canceled, protesters planned to wait in the state house until morning as a sign of resistance. Many came prepared with toothbrushes and sleeping bags, reports the News & Observer. Their plans were foiled, however, when General Assembly police closed the state house at 7:15 pm, arresting everyone who remained in the building.
"You can run, but you can't hide... When we come here and [the lawmakers] are here, they want to drag us out. Then when they knew the national TV was on them, they tucked their tails and ran," explained head of the state NAACP Rev. William Barber, who suggested that legislators deliberately changed their scheduled hours to avoid the evening protest.
Demonstrators traveled from across the state to speak out against what the organizers are calling the 'poll tax in disguise,' which was introduced late last week by Senate Republicans.
As The Nation reports, if passed, the bill would require all voters to present state-approved forms of ID, which would exclude college, local government, and private employer IDs. The law would also restrict early voting, stop same-day registration, and ban state supported voter registration drives, leaving North Carolina with the strictest voter ID law in the US.
“There’s a certain evil symmetry to the proposal,” writes Director of research for NC Policy Watch Rob Schofield, "After having spent months passing scores of regressive and destructive proposals into law, state leaders are now, like thieves covering their tracks, doing everything in their power to make sure they’re not caught or punished for their actions.”
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“... I and many others out here today don’t really think this legislature really reflects the will of the people of North Carolina,” commented Pastor Rick Edens, who participated in the protest, when asked about the ID law.
The 'Moral Monday' action also focused on the $20.6 billion spending plan released on Sunday, which would make damaging strides towards the privatization of education, funding the Voter ID program, and cutting government jobs.
“This is a budget full of voodoo economics that hurt teachers and public education,” Barber, said Monday.
Voting on the ID law will take place Tuesday afternoon.
Lucia Brown is a summer editorial intern at Common Dreams.