Charting a Moral Monday, from the Capitol to the Prison Bus

Jenny Warburg

Thousands of people have been taking part in the weekly rallies. At the one on June 10, there were over 1,400 protesters swarming the Capitol building.

Thousands of demonstrators have been congregating at the North Carolina State Capitol for weeks to protest the increasingly tone-deaf policies being trotted out by the General Assembly. As Chris Kromm and Sue Sturgis put it in our May/June issue

There is growing anger over the GOP agenda. In April, the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP began organizing what it calls “Moral Monday” protests at the General Assembly in response to the Republican assault on programs serving the state’s poorest and most vulnerable residents, timed to coincide with the opening of the session each week, the protests have drawn thousands of people to the legislature from throughout the state, a diverse crowd that has included young and old, black and white, students, working people, professionals, and retirees. Some protesters have engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience by entering the legislative building where they have held signs and belted out civil-rights anthems like “We Shall Overcome” in defiance of police orders to disperse, leading to more than 300 arrests so far for trespassing and other misdemeanor charges. The protests have won the endorsement of the state Democratic Party and the condemnation of McCrory, who has said such unlawful demonstrations “should be unacceptable.” (Full disclosure: After the print edition of this story went to press, co-author Chris Kromm was among 151 people arrested in the June 3 Moral Monday protest.)
The president of the state NAACP, the Reverend William Barber, has said the aim of the protests is to get the legislative leadership to “repent” and “turn around”—or at the very least to focus public attention on lawmakers’ actions, presumably so voters will remember come next November. But even if Democrats retake control of the legislature and begin to reverse some of the GOP policies over the next decade, it will take time to rebuild public schools, restore voting rights, tilt the tax code back toward fairness, and clean up polluted air and water. Though this Republican-right era won’t likely last long, North Carolinians will be living with its consequences for decades, if not generations.

More than 350 people have been arrested since the protests began in April. At last week's alone, over 80 of the 1,400 protesters in attendance were arrested. Freelance photographer Jenny Warburg has been photographing the protests for the last few weeks; we collected her best pictures below, which prove how large and diverse the movement has already become, and it doesn't look like North Carolina residents are set to stop anytime soon.  Click the image below to view the slideshow.



Moral Mondays in Focus



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