Unless you live in North Carolina or follow Twitter, where pictures were posted all weekend, you may have missed that nearly 100,000 people rallied in Raleigh on Saturday to protest the policies and direction of North Carolina’s current one-party government and leadership by conservative Governor Pat McCrory, who even appointed far-right financier Art Pope as his budget director. North Carolina is one of more than half the states that now lack checks and balances because the governor, and house and senate majorities are controlled by one party.
For much of the past year, the North Carolina NAACP, led by the prophetic Rev. William Barber, has been sponsoring Moral Monday protests at the statehouse to decry a rash of legislation that has wiped out what was thought to have been the progressive, “new south,” direction of North Carolina.
Ari Berman writing for The Nation summarizes North Carolina’s legislative record that has spurred the protests: “Since taking over the legislature in 2010 and the governor’s mansion in 2012, controlling state government for the first time in over a century, North Carolina Republicans eliminated the earned-income tax credit for 900,000 North Carolinians; refused Medicaid coverage for 500,000; ended federal unemployment benefits for 170,000; cut pre-K for 30,000 kids while shifting $90 million from public education to voucher schools; slashed taxes for the top 5 percent while raising taxes on the bottom 95 percent; axed public financing of judicial races; prohibited death row inmates from challenging racially discriminatory verdicts; passed one of the country’s most draconian anti-choice laws; and enacted the country’s worst voter suppression law, which mandates strict voter ID, cuts early voting and eliminates same-day registration, among other things.”
The organizers describe Saturday’s rally as the kick-off for weekly protests leading to the November election when members of the legislature will be on the ballot. The protestors, multi-racial and from all corners of North Carolina, have set five priorities: pro-labor, anti-poverty policies; well funded, quality public education; health care access for all North Carolinians; protection of the rights of all in the criminal justice system; and the protection and expansion of voting rights.
Rev. Barber’s rallying cry is positive: “We’ve come too far to go back now.”