The Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina branch of the NAACP, was removed from today's session of the N.C. House this afternoon by police officers after he and others shouted at legislators from the gallery.
Barber and the six other protestors were placed in handcuffs after they chanted, "Do Justice, Love Mercy, Walk Humbly With God." The words are from a Bible verse, Micah 6:8.
They also chanted, "Fund education, not incarceration," and "Save our children, don't cut education."
Barber was charged by General Assembly Police with disorderly conduct and second-degree trespassing, both misdomeanors. He was transported by ambulance under police escort to the Wake County jail, where he is set to appear before a magistrate.
General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver said Barber was not injured in any way, but had to be transported by ambulance due to his size. Weaver said it is rare, but not unheard of, for people to be arrested inside the legislative building.
The others charged are: former head of the Durham NAACP Curtis Gatewood, who now lives in Oxford; Robert Thompson Stephens of Winston-Salem; Kojo Nantambu of Charlotte; Timothy Hodges of Clayton; David Louis Lamotte of Raleigh; and Theodore Anthony Spearman of Hickory.
As he was being taken into custody, Barber said they were protesting the "extreme, Draconian" budgets proposed by legislative Republicans. Both the proposed House and Senate spending plans would make deep cuts to nearly every area of state government, especially education and social programs.
Also at issue, Barber said, are such GOP actions as holding up extended unemployment benefits, changes to voting laws and the fact that the NACCP members have not been able to schedule a meeting with House Speaker Thom Tillis.
"It's about going backward," said Barber, who is the pastor at Greenleaf Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro.
Tillis said on the floor that the protest was "one of the most disruptive, disrespectful acts I've ever seen."
Afterward, Tillis said he'd set up a meeting with Barber earlier this session, but Barber canceled. About six weeks into the session, Tillis prayed with Barber.
Tillis said Barber's protest makes him less inclined to meet with the NAACP president.
"I'll meet with someone more respectful of this institution," Tillis said.