Yesterday, Moral Monday held a rally to call attention to environmental injustice plaguing the state as well as to put a face to the cost of cutting and denying citizens Medicaid. Reverend Barber and protestors walked into the state capitol to attend to hand Governor McCrory a letter asking him to repeal his harmful policies.
The Governor, of course, was not there. Protestors entered the state capitol building and rallied inside. Ushered out at 5 PM, 11 protestors stayed and conducted a sit-in. The rest of the protestors left the building and rallied on Halifax Mall. To deter cameramen from trying to witness the arrest of the sit-in protestors, capitol building staff shuttered the historic building’s windows.
Having seemingly learned from last session that bad media follows direct confrontation, legislators and administrators have by and large skirted around engaging with Moral Monday so far this summer, by building closures, waiting out protestors, and avoiding making visible arrests.
For instance, yesterday, House GA members called their 4 PM session and immediately adjourned to go home, saying they had worked hard over the weekend. The new General Assembly rules, adopted just two weeks ago by a committee of Republicans, say that the Legislative building will close 30 minutes after the House or Senate session adjourns. This move made sure that Moral Monday couldn’t enter the Legislative building this week. Were our poor legislators, who work 1-3 months a year, really all that tuckered out or did they just want to avoid more problems?
Around 5:30 PM yesterday, the movement seemed completely locked out of the corridors of power. 11 sit-in protestors remained inside the shuttered capitol building. On the Halifax Mall, Reverend Barber roared that a movement can’t just be ignored. He said their strategy committee would be convening to adjust to the legislators new tactic of avoidance.
Around 7 o clock, the 11 sit-in protestors at the capitol building were released in two waves. They were cited for second-degree trespassing, given a ticket to appear, not arrested. Again, something has changed from last session—the 945 arrests last year clogged up the courts and generated enormous press for the movement. This year, damage control and light, hands-off policing with the hopes that Moral Monday will get disheartened from being ignored and just give up seems to be the name of the game.