Carrboro mayor, aldermen among those arrested at Moral Mondays protest

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While the arrests occurred inside the building, supporters continued to rally, chant and hold up signs on Salisbury Street.

More than 150 people were arrested at this week’s Moral Mondays protest at the North Carolina General Assembly — and among them were members of Carrboro town government.

Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton and two Board of Aldermen members were arrested Monday after they joined the protest to express their concerns about the legislature’s agenda.

“They charged me with second-degree trespass, failure to disperse and violation of building rules,” Chilton said.

For the fifth time since late April, hundreds of protesters rallied outside the statehouse to demonstrate against the Republican majority’s agenda. Chilton said it was his first time attending one of the protests, but he decided to go because of recent legislative decisions on voter laws.

“I am very concerned about not only the direction that the General Assembly is taking our state right now, but about the unfair ways they are trying to change our system of election in North Carolina,” he said.

Alderman Damon Seils said he attended the protest to express his concerns about the direction in which representatives are taking the state. He said he believed some state legislators were not living up to what they swore at the beginning of their terms.

“We take an oath of office, and part of the holding is following the rules, and there is some concern that some of the state legislators are not playing by the rules,” he said. “I also think it is important that we have a General Assembly that operates in an open way that is transparent to the people. And I think that’s not what is happening now.”

Board of Aldermen member Sammy Slade said his biggest concern was the lack of effort dedicated to the issue of climate change. He said he thought the arrest was unwarranted.

“This is supposed to be a place where we can go and express our grievances,” Slade said. “We wanted to make sure that we held members accountable for some of the ways business has been conducted.”

Chilton also said his arrest was a violation of his civil liberties.

“The people shall have the right to assemble for their common good to instruct their representatives,” the mayor said, referring to Article I, Section 12 of the North Carolina Constitution.

Despite being arrested, Chilton, Slade and Seils said they still plan on attending Moral Mondays protests in the future. Chilton said he will attend more this summer, but he is prohibited from being inside of the General Assembly building until after his court case is resolved. His court date is set for August 20 at the district court in Wake County.

“It’s really encouraging to see every week more and more people coming out,” Slade said. “I will be going to support other folks who are there and to show that we are a growing movement.”

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