At the end of this week’s Moral Monday protest, some participants were not done being heard.
Because of Memorial Day, protesters led by the N.C. NAACP gathered in front of the N.C. General Assembly on Tuesday.
Fifteen protesters were able to stage a sit-in inside the office of N.C. Speaker of the House Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, beginning around 3:30 p.m.
The 15-member sit-in continued inside Tillis’ office into the night.
N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber said he and additional protesters would stay outside of Tillis’ office until their demands were met.
Within the first 30 minutes of the sit-in, capitol and Raleigh police had cleared the hallway to Tillis’ office of additional protesters. For nearly two hours, law enforcement officials held protesters back, but no arrests were made.
“I’m sure the decision not to arrest came from high up, and it just shows that this legislature and governor are just playing games with us, and these new building rules will not deter us,” Barber said. “To us, the rules and potential arrests are side issues. To us, the issues are important — not these new rules.”
Before the sit-in began, protesters split into small groups and went into every legislators’ office to express dissatisfaction with the current practices of the Republican-led General Assembly and legislation passed last year.
“They are directly assaulting young people by changing the voting laws and hampering the implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” Barber said.
“Cutting the funding of public education is also a direct assault on young people and our future. This is why we see so many young people engaged in this movement.”
Protester Jesseia Jackson said she was at the sit-in because everyone needs equal rights.
“People are dying because of the actions of this legislature and their refusal to expand Medicaid coverage, and that’s not right,” she said.
Norman Clark, another sit-in participant, said minimum wage was an issue important to him.
“I’m here because I feel that we should boost the minimum wage,” he said. “If (legislators) boost it to $15 or even $10 an hour, the more people will get help.”
Tuesday’s sit-in contrasted with last week’s inaugural protest despite raising awareness for similar issues.
Last Monday, participants walked through the legislature in silence with their mouths taped in symbolic protest.
Barber said it would be the last time protesters would be silent in the legislative building.
Tuesday, they followed through.
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