After a day when hundreds rallied at the North Carolina legislative building against the 'extreme' policies pushed forth by the GOP-led body, 14 protesters were arrested early Wednesday morning after staging an overnight sit-in at the office of the state's House speaker Tom Tillis.
Organized under the banner of the "Moral Monday" campaign, over 170 took part in the demonstration Tuesday to call on lawmakers to "repent for the harm they have caused, to repeal the flood of extreme policies passed last year and to restore confidence in our elected officials," according to a statement by the North Carolina NAACP.
Eight fast food workers, four clergy members, one housing expert and one retired public school employee were arrested at 1:45 am after participating in a 12-hour protest during which the Republican leader left through a back exit to avoid meeting with the demonstrators. In the hallway outside the lawmaker's office, fellow protesters sang the the civil rights ballad, "We Shall Not Be Moved."
"I am participating in the nonviolent civil disobedience today to let my voice be heard," said demonstrator Crystal Price, a 27-year old mother of two and an employee of Wendy's in Greensboro.
"When state lawmakers pass laws eliminating the Earned Income Tax Credit or refuse to expand Medicaid—programs my children and I depend on—while giving tax breaks to the wealthiest few, it makes a statement that these representatives do not care about working mothers like me," she added. Price, who is suffering from cervical cancer, was initially one of the protesters staked out in Tillis's office but had to leave to take care of her children.
"Tonight, we put a face on the real harm these policies are inflicting across our state," said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, movement leader and president of the state's NAACP.
Those arrested were charged with second-degree trespassing, a misdemeanor. By Wednesday morning, twelve of the fourteen were released. The other two continued to be held.
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Roughly 950 total activists with the Forward Together Moral Movement were arrested at weekly demonstrations during the 2013 legislative season protesting what they say are the "extreme policies" passed by the GOP-led legislature. These included restrictive voting rules, denial of Medicaid expansion, cuts to unemployment benefits, and the repeal of the Earned Income Tax Credit, among others.
As lawmakers are once again convening at the state assembly, the weekly demonstrations are also set to return with renewed focus to "repeal and reverse" the regressive policies passed in 2013.
The NC NAACP released the below video of the action in and around Tillis's office:
During the demonstration, protesters posted images of the sit-in online: