New General Assembly rules would limit Moral Monday protests - WNCN: News, Weather

New General Assembly rules would limit Moral Monday protests

Posted: Updated:
An officer arrests a demonstrator during the seventh Moral Monday protest. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN) An officer arrests a demonstrator during the seventh Moral Monday protest. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A North Carolina General Assembly committee passed new rules governing public access to the Legislature on Thursday; rules that would have a direct impact on the Moral Monday protests.

The protests brought thousands of people to the legislative sessions in 2013 who were opposed to the Republican agenda. But the demonstrations frustrated legislative leaders as hundreds of people jammed the legislative complex.

The new rules, which were changes to existing rules, were passed Thursday by the Legislative Services Commission. The committee had not met since 1999, and the rules had not been altered since 1987.

The committee includes eight Republicans and two Democrats, and the new rules passed by a voice vote.

"It's not directed specifically at the protesters," said committee chair Tim Moore, a Republican. "These rules were last updated in 1987. They really needed to be addressed."

But Rep. Larry Hall, A Democrat and the House minority leader, said, "This is not regarding safety. This is limiting people's ability to have their voices heard."

The new rules do not allow groups to "disturb, or create an imminent disturbance," at the General Assembly.

They state that visitors may be asked to leave the Legislative Building if they are found to be disturbing "the General Assembly, one of its houses, or its committees, members, or staff in the performance of their duties."

Behaviors that could violate the rules "may include singing, clapping, shouting, playing instruments or using sound amplification equipment."

The new rules further prohibit signs on handsticks and say that signs that disturb members will be confiscated.

The rules also place limits on gathering at the General Assembly, especially in front of the main South entrance on Jones Street.

Groups that expect to draw between 25 and 200 people can ask to reserve space at the South entrance. But, the rules now state, "This location may not be reserved for coordinated activities the person or group reasonably expects will involve 200 or more participants."

"It's really designed to have a chilling effect on those who might participate in Moral Monday demonstrations," said Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Democrat from Durham.

Moore, the commission chair, said the rules would not impact Halifax Mall, which is where many Moral Monday demonstrations were held.

Non-violent protests outside the Legislature's chambers last year led to more than 900 arrests during more than a dozen demonstrations organizers dubbed "Moral Mondays." The Rev. William Barber, the head of the NAACP in North Carolina, said Wednesday that the protests will resume next week.

Barber said the protests will replicate last year's and arrests will be up to the Legislature's police.

In a statement Thursday afternoon, Barber said,"Speaker Thom Tillis and the extremists he leads are attempting to undermine, stifle and stop the voice of the people."

Barber said that courts would uphold the North Carolina Constitution, which states, "The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances."

Barber said the new rules violate the First Amendment rights to free speech and are "highly offensive and prejudicial to African Americans, minorities, women, the poor, LGBT people and faith communities who have been historically criticized for being abnormal to the so-called mainstream of our country whenever they have chosen to protest."

Barber was not among the ministers who visited with Gov. Pat McCrory Thursday. A McCrory spokesman said Barber was invited but declined to attend, and the governor's office  released a guest list with Barber's name on it.

“On May 8th, the governor’s chief of staff, Thomas Stith, spoke directly with Rev. Barber and invited him to attend today’s lunch meeting with clergy," spokesman Josh Ellis said in a statement. "The governor arranged this meeting to continue reaching out to various individual groups including members of the business, clergy and education community. Rev. Barber said that he couldn’t come because of a conflict in his schedule. We’re unclear why he’s trying to mischaracterize his absence.”

But the NAACP released a statement saying McCrory and his staff were spreading "false information."

Barber said he got a call last week from the Governor's office about a possible luncheon.

"I said it might be possible if I could bring other clergy leaders from the Forward Together Movement with me," Barber said in a statement. "I was told the governor decided his own list. I was also told the luncheon may or may not occur. I have not heard anything from his office since.

"I now learn a luncheon apparently took place and that the Governor's office has apparently said I declined his invitation."

Between April and July 2013, State Capitol Police spent more than $22,000 covering the protests. That is in addition to more than $43,000 by the Wake County Sheriff's Office and more than $69,000 by the Raleigh Police.

Raleigh police spokesman Jim Sughrue said the department's expenditures included officers working in three capacities: regular, on-duty status; overtime status; and compensatory time status.

RELATED STORIES

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

  • PoliticsMore>>

  • NC flags lowered on day of Fulghum service

    NC flags lowered on day of Fulghum service

    Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:11 AM EDT2014-07-23 09:11:02 GMT
    A first-term North Carolina legislator who died last weekend will be formally remembered within state government and at the church he attended for decades.
    A first-term North Carolina legislator who died last weekend will be formally remembered within state government and at the church he attended for decades.
  • NC counties see sales tax changes in Senate bill

    NC counties see sales tax changes in Senate bill

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 10:46 PM EDT2014-07-23 02:46:55 GMT
    File PhotoFile Photo
    Four large North Carolina counties would see their authority to raise sales taxes scaled back in Senate legislation that its Republican supporters say would level the playing field across the state in generating revenue.
    Four large North Carolina counties would see their authority to raise sales taxes scaled back in Senate legislation that its Republican supporters say would level the playing field across the state in generating revenue.
  • State: Ex-Tarboro town manager used funds inappropriately

    State: Ex-Tarboro town manager used funds inappropriately

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 7:10 PM EDT2014-07-22 23:10:06 GMT

    The state auditor’s report determined that the former town manager “made nearly $366,000 of purchases" that were inappropriate.

    The state auditor’s report determined that the former town manager “made nearly $366,000 of purchases" that were inappropriate.

  • Trending StoriesTrending StoriesMore>>

  • Teen mom charged after baby found buried at Louisburg home

    Teen mom charged after baby found buried at Louisburg home

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 11:44 PM EDT2014-07-23 03:44:25 GMT
    Ashley Reed, 16, of Louisburg is charged with concealing a death after her infant was found buried beside her house.
    Ashley Reed, 16, of Louisburg is charged with concealing a death after her infant was found buried beside her house.
  • Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Largest companies by revenue in each state

    Thursday, July 10 2014 8:01 PM EDT2014-07-11 00:01:10 GMT
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
    Broadview Networks recently decided to find out the biggest -- by revenue -- company in each state in the US.The company used the Fortune 500 list to start with, but needed data by state, so it turned to Hoover's.With data from that company, they were able to search through each state's list of companies and then find the largest -- by revenue.Just flip through the list above and see who is the biggest in each state, what town they are based and their revenue.
  • Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Couple arrested for having sex on Cortez Beach in front of beachgoers

    Tuesday, July 22 2014 1:08 PM EDT2014-07-22 17:08:35 GMT
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
    Bradenton Beach police officers were dispatched to Cortez Beach after a few people called 911 and complained about a couple having sex publicly, right next to a little girl on the beach.
Powered by WorldNow

1205 Front St., Raleigh
N.C., 27609

Telephone: 919.836.1717
Fax: 919.836.1687
Email: newstips@wncn.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.