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Moral Monday protest centers on unemployment cuts

Thousands of people tramped across a muddy Halifax Mall Monday to take part in the ninth Moral Monday protest.

“Seventy-thousand,” the Rev. William Barber shouted. Attendees echoed his words. He shouted the number again and again, focusing in on the significance of Monday, July 1: The date the cuts to the state’s unemployment benefits went into effect.

“Can you hear the cries of the children whose parents cannot afford to pay their mortgages?” asked one speaker at the event, Javan Richardson of Rocky Mount, a rising ninth grader at Nash Community Early College. He came to Raleigh for his first protest Monday.

About 150 arrested at NC legislature in latest Moral Monday protest

Authorities arrested more than 100 people Monday evening in the rotunda between the legislative chambers – the largest mass arrest since the N.C. NAACP began organizing the weekly civil disobedience events in April. An exact number was not immediately available but organizers expected the arrests to reach near 150, double the number from the last protest.

Before the arrests inside, a huge crowd rallied outside the statehouse, listening to speakers condemn Republican legislative leaders. “That’s extreme,” shouted the Rev. William Barber, the N.C. NAACP president, into a loud speaker as he listed legislation Republicans have approved this year. “That’s immoral, and we must stand up and wake up right here, right now.”

Police estimated the crowd at 1,000 – about five times more people than at previous protests – but organizers counted 1,600. With this fifth protest in what organizers are calling “Moral Mondays,” the number of arrests is nearly 300 this legislative session.

Columnist Doug Clark: NC Democrats seem leaderless

"If North Carolina Republicans have a leadership problem, it's a matter of too many: Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis aren't always on the same page," writes columnist Doug Clark of the Greensboro News and Record. "Which one will prevail on key policy issues?

"The Democrats' problem is just the opposite: They have no one.

Get Clark's full take on the Democrats leadership issues here.

Big rallies expected at state legislature

Expect a crowd Tuesday at the N.C. General Assembly. The N.C. chapter of the NAACP is holding a lobbying day, promising to mobilize huge numbers to counter what they believe is an extreme Republican agenda.

The Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) coalition will start with an event at First Baptist church in downtown Raleigh at 9 a.m. "We are petitioning our government for redress of grievances," Rev. William J. Barber said in a statement. "With people who are being directly penalized and punished by the extreme ideological agenda being promoted on Jones Street, we will peaceably, and with grace, demand they stop their attacks on the most vulnerable North Carolinians.

The event coincides with N.C. Women United's legislative advocacy day. The group expects 85 to 100 supporters from across the state to flood the legislative buildings and push for "proactive measures that prioritize the needs of women and their families in North Carolina." Kim Gandy, the leader of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, will serve as a keynote speaker at a 9:15 a.m. rally.

NAACP said GOP voter ID bill is still unconstitutional

The Rev William Barber, president of the state NAACP, accused House Speaker Thom Tillis of stooping “to a new moral low ground” by introducing a voter ID bill on the 45th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

Barber rejected Tillis' suggestion that the bill was a compromise because it offers free voter IDS and birth certificates to those in financial need.

He said the costs of finding such documents as birth certificates will only be covered if the person was born in North Carolina.

.”Citizens born elsewhere will still have to shell out time and money to obtain their birth certificates,'' Barber said. “Birth certificates can cost up to $45 to obtain in some states. Moreover, nearly 20 states require people to provide a photo ID before the state will give a copy of a birth certificate. In some states, the wait time to get the birth certificate can be months, especially if you have to write away for it.''

“Any tax on any citizen who wants to vote - rich, poor, young, old, black, white or brown - is unconstitutional,'' Barber said. “In 1964, the United States passed the 24th Constitutional Amendment that outlawed $2 poll tax, and "any other taxes" to vote.  Whether or not someone can afford the poll tax is irrelevant. The bill is clearly unconstitutional.''

Proposed new GOP voters laws denounced

A coalition of groups, led by the NAACP, Friday denounced legislation that would make it harder to vote in North Carolina, promising to wage a vigorous campaign against the proposed new restrictions.

The group criticized GOP bills that would cut early voting by one week, would end Sunday voting, and would end same day registration at early voting sites and end straight-party voting.

“These bills are about politicians manipulating elections for their own partisan gains,” said the Rev. William Barber, the state NAACP president. “These bills will block hundreds of North Carolinians from voting.''

He said a similar law in Florida last year, lead to eight-hour lines for voters and according to one study 200,000 people giving up and not voting.

Allison Riggs, an attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice said a similar law was struck down in Ohio.

Voter ID foes to fight in courts, in streets

Critics of proposed new voter photo ID law vowed Thursday to launch a vigorous effort to fight the proposal, saying it amounted to a 21st century version of the poll tax used to keep blacks from voting.

The state NAACP lead a coalition of groups said they planned to contest a voter ID bill in the legislature even though it is clear that the Republican majority has the votes to pass it and that GOP Gov. Pat McCrory has said he will sign it.

“We will fight them in the courts, we fight them in the streets, and voters will fight them by turning out and voting,” said Penda Hair, co-director of the Advancement Project, a major national civil rights group that is legally challenging voter ID laws across the country. She described North Carolina as “ground zero” in the national fight.

NAACP asks McCrory to govern as a moderate

Following a meeting with Gov.-elect Pat McCrory last week, the Rev. William Barber, state NAACP president, said the organization is going to release a petition Friday that calls on McCrory to govern as a moderate.

Barber told the N&O's Thomas Goldsmith that he urged McCrory in last week's meeting to focus on unemployment and poverty. The meeting lasted about 20 to 30 minutes, Barber said, and there was talk of meeting again after McCrory becomes governor.

In a statement, McCrory spokesman Ricky Diaz said the governor-elect thought it was a good meeting and the office is reviewing the schedule for future meetings with NAACP leadership.

Redistricting plaintiffs ask for Newby recusal

Democrats, the state NAACP, and other nonprofits who are suing over redistricting plans want Supreme Court Judge Paul Newby to recuse himself from participating in the case.

They filed a motion Wednesday saying that individuals and political groups with a direct stake in the outcome of the redistricting case spent heavily to support his re-election, and their support "had a significant and disproportionate influence in Justice Newby's victory."

NAACP wants to meet with McCrory

The NAACP will hold a news conference Saturday in Durham asking for a meeting with Republican Gov-elect Pat McCrory to discuss ways to work together to “advance the cause of racial equality and economic justice.''

The group also plans to express its concern that “ultra conservative'' Art Pope, the Raleigh retail executive, and financier of conservative causes, was placed on McCrory's transition team. And it plans to question whether Justice Paul Newby, who was re-elected to the N.C. Supreme Court, with the help of a $3 million outside campaign, should recuse himself from voting on redistricting cases.

“We are asking Governor-elect McCrory to resist the extremist elements of the Republican Party that continue to race-bait, attack voting rights, the poor and social safety net programs, and express unfounded criticism of the elected president of our nation based on his race,” the Rev. William J. Barber, the state NAACP president.

“The election is over now,” Barber said. “We must move towards governing, and we call on Governor-elect McCrory to focus on the kind of agenda that will move our state forward together and not one step back.''

He said the group would push for economic sustainability, addressing poverty, full employment, healthcare for all protecting voting rights and other issues.

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