More than 1,000 North Carolinians called on the state legislature to restore funding for public school students’ education and to back off its attack on teachers’ rights and its support of school privatization in a Moral Monday rally at the state Capitol in Raleigh.
The Moral Monday protests began last year in response to Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) and the Republican legislature’s extremist agenda that has attacked voting rights, education, the environment, unemployed workers, health care and women’s rights.
Showing Moral Monday’s mounting pressure and its growing state and national high profile, for the first time a leader of the legislature met with the protesters who had been prepared for a sit-in and possible arrest.
North Carolina Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger (R) met with some 15 teachers and student outside his office for about two hours. According to news reports, it was an occasionally heated but mostly civil conversation about the cuts to public education funding, the elimination of nearly 700 teaching assistants, public funds for private school vouchers and tying teacher raises to eliminating tenure rights.
While protesters said they appreciated that Berger met with them, they said they would continue their drive to protect students and public education. Bryan Proffitt, a 10-year teacher, said:
I won’t be satisfied until my students have what they need and our schools aren’t bleeding every day….We’ll be back if these conditions are not met. The reality is, with all the media attention we’re getting right here and all this conversation, we’re going to be back with a whole lot more folks.
Several hundred people rallied at the state Capitol in Raleigh, N.C., yesterday in a Moral Monday action focused on environmental and health care issues. Eleven of the protesters were arrested on trespassing charges after a sit-in at the Capitol building, but none were arrested for violating the recent “imminent disturbance” gag rule.
The Moral Monday protests began last year in response to Gov. Pat McCrory’s (R) and the Republican legislature’s extremist agenda that has attacked voting rights, education, the environment, unemployed workers, health care and women’s right.
Those arrested were trying to deliver a letter to McCrory whose office, normally opened on a Monday, was closed. The letter urged the governor to:
“Reverse course by repenting, repealing and restoring our state to higher ground by eliminating the laws and policies pushed by this N.C. Legislature, led by Speaker [Thom] Tillis and Senate Leader [Phil] Berger and signed by you.”
Also, the legislature, which normally holds Monday evening sessions, was adjourned yesterday in an effort, some said, to avoid the demonstrators from faith, civil rights, labor, environmental, women’s health care and other groups. Said Rakhve Devasthklia.
“Deliberately not showing up on Monday for their constituents to speak with them shows who they’re representing. I don’t think they would do this when Duke Energy shows up.”
In February, Duke Energy’s Dan River plant was the site of the nation’s third largest spill of toxic coal ash that spread 70 miles downriver. Also, in March, North Carolina regulators said Duke Energy illegally pumped 61 million gallons of contaminated water from a coal ash pit into the Cape Fear River.
Moral Monday demonstrations are set for the next several Mondays, including next week, highlighting education and a June 16 action focused on workers’ rights.
Yesterday, we came out to support the NC State AFL-CIO for the second annual Pots and Spoons protest to mark the beginning of the short session for North Carolina’s Legislature.
The last two years have been marked by a regressive voter suppression law, cuts in education spending, and the rejection of Medicaid Expansion that would benefit close to half a million of our most vulnerable workers.
Hundreds of supporters were joined by union members, teachers, and lots of Moral Monday activists who are all calling on the legislature to change course and stop the attacks on North Carolina workers.
This protest was modeled after cacerolazos, protests that are common among peoples’ movements in South America and Spain. People bring a pot and a spoon and bang loudly to get the attention of politicians and decision-makers.
Legislators were entering their chambers with a chorus of clanking metal from the growing coalition of North Carolina progressives who are fighting back against legislators who are determined to roll back a century of progress.
As we gathered across from the legislative building on Wednesday, we were proud to stand with our coalition partners during this legislative session to remind these officials who they are supposed to represent.
Join the Moral Movement for North Carolina’s working families – text VOTENC to 30644.
Since he took the role of Speaker in 2013, Tillis has helped pass a raft of corporate-friendly legislation. Many of these bills were based on ALEC models:
In 2013, after Republicans gained control of the North Carolina legislature and governor’s mansion for the first time since 1870, an array of right-wing legislation reflecting ALEC templates swept through the legislature. Both the Raleigh News-Observer and CMD found dozens of ALEC bills introduced in 2013, including measures that promote voter suppression, union busting, public funding of private schools, and the repeal of clean energy laws.
The onslaught of ALEC-influenced legislation in 2013 helped give rise to North Carolina’s “Moral Mondays” movement.
AFP has long been a member of ALEC, and both David and Charles Koch have made personal loans to ALEC and funded the group through their foundations. Additionally, a Koch Industries lobbyist sits on the national board of ALEC — along with Tillis.
Art Pope, a North Carolina mega-donor who funds two state-based right-wing think tanks (both of which have been members of ALEC) also reportedly is supporting Tillis’ candidacy. Not coincidentally, Pope serves on the board of AFP.
As we’ve written before, ALEC disrupts democracy not just because of the policies they promote. By writing corporate friendly bills while also funding and promoting the campaigns of politicians who support those bills, they essentially turn legislators into delivery systems – not public servants. But in supporting Tillis and attacking his would-be opponent to the tune of millions, Pope and the Kochs are showing Tillis’ other legislative colleagues that they could benefit by toeing the ALEC line.
When a group equal to one-fifth the population of the state capital shows up to protest your policies, you’re in trouble. Between 80,000 and 100,000 people showed up Saturday at the Moral March on Raleigh, the state capital with some 420,000 residents. The marchers included working families and their allies from around the state and more than 30 other states. A related rally a year ago attracted 15,000 participants. It’s clear that more North Carolinians are becoming upset with the extreme agenda of Gov. Pat McCrory (R) and his allies in the legislature.
The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP and a driving force behind the state’s Moral Monday movement, which spawned the march, said: “The governor and the legislature are trying to say we’re in the middle of a Carolina comeback. We got a team of experts, economists, professors, etc., together, and they said we’re in the middle of a Carolina setback. No way you can spin what’s happening to us.”
MaryBe McMillan, the elected secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO, wrote a poem on the march. Below is an excerpt:
Why are union members and workers here, today?
We’re here because:
There’s too much corporate greed
And we have families to feed.
There are so few jobs, no decent wages.
Inequality tops the news pages.
CEOs earn more and more
While the rest of us grow poor.
The bosses want their workers cheap,
Meek and docile like sheep.
They move their companies South,
Hoping we won’t give them any mouth.
Well, imagine their surprise
As they watch the South arise.
The reaction to the right-wing policies pursued by McCrory are opposed by much of the state’s public as well. A poll last week gave him a 37% approval rating. The General Assembly fared even worse, at 32%. Only 23% of the state’s residents think North Carolina is headed in the right direction.
Barber and the other organizers behind the march and the Moral Monday protests have focused on five goals:
Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that ensure economic sustainability.
Provide well-funded, quality public education for all.
Stand up for the health of every North Carolinian by promoting health care access and environmental justice across all the state’s communities.
Address the continuing inequalities in the criminal justice system and ensure equality under the law for every person, regardless of race, class, creed, documentation or sexual preference.
Protect and expand voting rights for people of color, women, immigrants, the elderly and students to safeguard fair democratic representation.
Learn more about the march and the Moral Monday activities.
On Feb. 8, the Moral Monday movement, which showed massive momentum in 2013, will return with its biggest event yet, the Moral March on Raleigh. While the state of North Carolina has been moving in a more Democratic direction in recent years in presidential elections, with Barack Obama winning the state in 2008 and coming just two percentage points of winning it again in 2012, extremist Republicans have taken control of the governor’s mansion and the state Assembly.
The Moral March on Raleigh will call out North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) and state Senate Leader Phil Berger (R) and their extreme policies, which have included attacks on voting rights, education, the environment, health care and women’s rights. Organizers expect tens of thousands of North Carolinians to stand up for their rights and fight back against these extreme policies on Feb. 8.
The Moral Monday movement was organized by the Rev. William Barber II, head of the North Carolina NAACP, which staged protests in Raleigh and throughout the state last year. The events were launched in conjunction with another organization headed by Barber, the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) People’s Assembly Coalition, and have been supported by more than 150 other organizations. The 13 Moral Monday events in Raleigh in 2013 led to nearly 1,000 arrests for civil disobedience, while events in dozens of other cities around the state helped raise awareness about the strange games afoot in the state capital.
The Moral Monday movement has put forth the People’s Moral Agenda, which includes the following principles and policy goals:
Economic sustainability, alleviating poverty and expanding labor rights.
Fully funded constitutional education.
Health care for all—protecting Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, women’s health and the Affordable Health Care Act.
Addressing disparities in the criminal justice system.
Protecting/expanding voting rights and civil rights.
Fair and just immigration reform.
Equal protection under the law regardless of race, income, gender or sexual orientation.
The Moral Monday movement also has a goal of raising awareness about Art Pope, the extreme financier behind much of the pro-corporate, anti-working family policies that have passed recently in North Carolina. Pope is often referred to as the state’s version of the Koch brothers.
Georgia is one of 24 states where governors and legislators have blocked the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Gov. Deal justified his decision by saying expansion “is not something our state can afford,” even though it would cost the state of Georgia nothing for the first three years.
Taking a cue from North Carolina, Georgians made Medicaid expansion the issue of their first Moral Monday protest. Protesters placed crosses, stars, and crescents on the steps to represent those who have needlessly died due to lack of affordable coverage. Check out these photos below:
Moreover, the sectors that grew are those that have the lowest wages:
Over the past 12 months, the leisure and hospitality sector has added 21,500 jobs, more than any other sector.
[N.C. Justice Center public policy analyst Allan] Freyer said that U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that those jobs pay an average of $8.30 an hour.
“That says the state’s growth opportunities are in ultra-low-wage jobs,” Freyer said. “That’s not the direction we want to be going.”
In recent months, Gov. McCrory and his allies enacted enormous cuts to unemployment insurance, which Bill Rowe of the N.C. Justice Center called “one of the most radical, is not the most radical proposals in the country.” They also passed a tax plan that lowers income tax and corporate while slicing the earned income tax credit for struggling families.
Gov. McCrory claimed both measures would help “job creation.” The same refrain was used by Gov. Scott Walker for his actions in Wisconsin to strip collective bargaining rights from public workers and his own tax plan that ended the state earned income tax credit. Wisconsin is also experiencing economic woes, also falling behind the rest of the country on employment.
What both governors are ignoring is that we know the path to prosperity: higher wages, public investment in infrastructure and education, and a tax plan that asks the rich to pay their fair share. Not the exact opposite.
But as McCrory’s recent voter suppression law shows, he’s not really interested in what the people think. He’s more interested in following the Walker model of ALEC-inspired, pro-corporate, anti-worker governance. In both North Carolina and Wisconsin, hundreds have gone to jail in recent weeks for protesting the state’s leadership.
If you’re in North Carolina, join our fight for working families by emailing Catherine at [email protected]
The North Carolina legislature isn’t in session. But outside the capital of Raleigh, the Moral Monday movement continues unabated. Thousands turned out to voice their opposition to the extremist policies set forth by Gov. Pat McCrory and his allies in the legislature, from voter suppression to a reactionary tax plan to his treatment of public school teachers.
The three protests spanned the state: Charlotte, the biggest city; Burnsville, in the west closer to the Kentucky border; and Manteo, on the eastern coast.
Meanwhile, the Gov. McCrory’s backwards agenda is having an effect on his poll numbers. Public Policy Polling, the most accurate pollster in the 2012 election, found that only 39 percent approve of McCrory, while 51 percent disapprove. The North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) is doing even worse, with only 24 percent approval. Half of voters, including 21 percent of Republicans, say the NCGA is making their state a national embarrassment.
Here are some incredible images from yesterday’s three-city Moral Monday rally. Thanks to all who tweeted, Tumbl’d, and otherwise shared their photos with the world.
That’s what North Carolinians have been trying to tell the country every Monday for the past three months by turning out in the thousands for Moral Monday protests.
One of the main grievances of the Moral Monday protesters is this bill signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory that restricts early voting, enacts narrow photo ID requirements for voting, and keeps individual cities and towns from dealing long lines.
But it’s not just the one bill. As Rachel Maddow describes above, it’s a systematic, years-long effort to transform democracy in North Carolina, down to the local level.
The two most egregious examples cited by Maddow are:
-The combining of three voting sites around Appalachian State University into one, as well as the deliberate removal of campus voting, creating a situation where 9,300 people must vote at one location that has 35 parking spots