RALEIGH: Moral Monday returns despite new rules - WNCN: News, Weather

Moral Monday returns despite new rules

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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 massive round of protests at the State Capitol is set to return Monday as the short session of the General Assembly begins its first full week.

The NAACP has called a news conference for 4:15 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in downtown Raleigh and plans to have a "rally, love feast and action" on the Bicentennial Mall in front of the General Assembly at 5 p.m.

"We're back because what was on paper as policy last year is in fact now causing pain and problems in the lives of real people," said the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP.

Moral Mondays made national headlines last year. Liberal activists, led by the state's NAACP, rallied against the Republican legislature. Hundreds were arrested.

The protests are scheduled to resume on Monday night, even as a legislative committee enacted new rules on those protests. On Thursday, the Legislative Services Commission gave the OK to ban groups from creating imminent disturbances in the building. That means no more singing, clapping and shouting inside. Signs on handsticks may also be confiscated. Also, groups larger than 200 are not allowed to protest inside or even just out front at the south entrance on Jones Street.

"This was represented to be some kind of safety mechanism. This is not regarding safety," Democratic House Leader Larry Hall said on Thursday. "This is limiting people's ability to have their voices heard."

But Republicans, who control both chambers, disagree.

"It's all a media event. They're not really communicating with the legislature," Rep. Paul "Skip" Stam said.

Even more, Stam said, the protests are disruptive. It's behavior he said would never be allowed in a courthouse and shouldn't be allowed in the people's house.
    
"Is that how we want a democracy to operate?" Stam said.

A large crowd is expected, despite the rules change. On Facebook, more than 800 people said they would attend as of Sunday evening. Still, there's confusion over how those new rules will be implemented.

"I don't think security even has a clue what it means. I don't think they know what we just did means. The staff doesn't know," Hall said, "So I guess we'll have another 900 cases end up in court."

North Carolina will be a politically important state in 2014. Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis is running for the United States Senate against Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan, in what is already one of the closest-watched races in the country.

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Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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