Police Shut Down Protest Of NC GOP, Arrest 8 Members Of The Clergy And A Woman In A Wheelchair

North Carolina capitol police arrested 17 people yesterday after protesters gathered in front of the doors to the state senate chamber in an act of civil disobedience against the Republican-led state legislature’s agenda. The arrestees included eight members of the clergy, and a woman in a wheelchair that a spokesperson for The Advancement Project identified as Marty Belin:

(Credit: The Advancement Project)

The protest was led by the Rev. Dr. William Barber, President of the NAACP of North Carolina, who published an open letter to Gov. Pat McCrory (R-NC) and his fellow lawmakers outlining several motivations for opposing the GOP’s agenda. These include the lawmakers’ rejection of increased Medicaid funding — a decision “that stripped over a half million poor people of health care” — their move to “cut the tax credit for over 900,000 poor and working people, while giving a tax break to 23 of the wealthiest people in our State,” and a voter suppression law introduced on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. Barber was also among the 17 protesters arrested yesterday:

(Credit: The Advancement Project)

Republicans currently control the state legislature for the first time since 1870, due in no small part to millions in election spending by a wealthy tea partier named Art Pope. In the few months since McCrory became governor last January, Republicans in North Carolina have pushed to transform the increasingly purple state into a laboratory for the tea party’s wish list. In addition to the issues flagged by Barber’s open letter, North Carolina Republicans introduced legislation mimicking the Florida law that led to six hour voting lines last November. They’ve tried to write lower wages into the state constitution. They’ve pushed a pair of bills making it easier for interest groups to buy and sell judges. And the Republican House Majority Leader even endorsed a pre-Civil War understanding of the Constitution, claiming that North Carolina was free to violate the Constitution’s ban on state-sponsored religion.