North Carolina lawmakers announced strict new rules limiting where and how citizens can protest in the state Legislative Building on Thursday, a move many see as an attempt to stifle the progressive “Moral Monday” protests that continue to gain momentum in the Tar Heel state.Create an "imminent disturbance"?
During the second day of the state’s 2014 legislative session, the North Carolina Legislative Services Commission, which has not met since 1999, announced a new set of regulations that overhaul building rules unchanged since 1987. Although state Republicans claim the new rules are only meant to lesson “disturbances” so lawmakers can conduct business, the regulations are sure to impact the ongoing Moral Mondays protests, a progressive grassroots movement in North Carolina that sprung up last year in opposition to a series of conservative laws passed by the North Carolina state legislature. Thousands of North Carolinians have expressed their fierce disapproval of the Republican-dominated General Assembly by protesting in and around the state Legislative Building over the past year, with more than 900 people reportedly arrested inside the building’s central rotunda for civil disobedience since April 2013.
But according to the new rules unveiled by the commission, groups are no longer allowed to “disturb, or create an imminent disturbance” at the Legislative Building, and visitors may be asked to leave 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 said to violate the rules include “singing, clapping, shouting, playing instruments or using sound amplification equipment,” or activities that defined many past Moral Mondays demostrations.
WNCN news has more.
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."Why Moral Mondays Are Returning in 2014 | Forward Together
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."
On May 19th, 2014, the Forward Together Movement will return to the North Carolina General Assembly for it's first Moral Monday of the 2014 Legislative Session. This video is an expose of the Movement and an explantation of why it's continuing.You can follow and support Moral Monday on facebook, or through the North Carolina NAACP.
Hattip to JanF.