Dozens cited for protests outside N Carolina legislature
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Police cited nearly 50 people Monday for impeding traffic while demonstrating in a street next to North Carolina’s Legislative Building.
The protesters were connected to a rally attended by more than 200 people on the Bicentennial Mall in Raleigh and assembled by the national Poor People’s Campaign.
North Carolina was one of 30 locations nationwide where the Poor People’s Campaign launched six weeks of nonviolent direct action. The Raleigh event focused on the needs of women, people with disabilities, children living in poverty and LGBT community members.
Shortly after 3 p.m., dozens of activists fanned out onto Jones Street, the road fronting the Legislative Building, locked hands and did not get off the road. In between chants and songs with their sidewalk supporters, each person was led away by police officers after refusing to leave and were taken to Raleigh police SUVs for processing.
Forty-nine people were cited by Raleigh police for impeding traffic by standing in the street, a misdemeanor, police Capt. M.K. Kohr said. Those cited were able to leave on their own but have future court dates. Police re-opened the road late Monday afternoon.
Mike Gauss, 51, of Raleigh, one of the demonstrators cited, said it was necessary to draw attention to widening income disparities within the country, particular those that harm women and those who are not white disproportionately.
“The only way to go and make that change happen is to have the voices heard,” Gauss said in an interview. “The only way to get the legislators to walk out and look out their window is to be loud, noisy and have the police show up.”
The General Assembly begins its annual work session Wednesday.
The Rev. William Barber is one of two leaders of the national Poor People’s Campaign. Barber is a North Carolina minister and former president of the state NAACP chapter who in 2013 began weekly demonstrations against policies approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly. The “Moral Monday” movement led to more than 1,000 arrests of protesters amid acts of non-violent civil disobedience.
Barber and the Rev. Liz Theoharis, the other campaign leader, were arrested Monday outside the U.S. Capitol during a similar protest in the nation’s capital, the campaign said in a new release.