"The Most Important Protest You’ve Never Heard Of"
Hundreds Arrested Protesting Extremist Takeover of North Carolina
The extreme right has taken over the state of North Carolina.
The short version of the story is that Art Pope, a right-wing multi-millionaire with close connections to the Koch brothers, spent heavily on the 2010 election and helped Republicans take over the state legislature for the first time since 1870. This in turn allowed Republicans to use redistricting to solidify their grip on the state legislature and expand the number of Republicans in the state’s congressional delegation.
The test run for this statewide takeover was a takeover of the Wake County (where Raleigh is located) schools in 2009, which Pope-backed candidates promptly re-segregated them upon winning election.
Since the election of Republican Governor Pat McCrory in 2012, all bets have been off as Republicans gained control of the entire state government for the first time since Reconstruction. Art Pope himself was put in charge of the state’s budget and the legislature has been racing to pass all manner of extreme right-wing legislation.
Now progressives are fighting back with weekly “Moral Monday” protests against these extreme policies. More than 480 people have been arrested in the demonstrations, including 84 just yesterday. Many of those arrested have been clergy who have not been previously involved in civil disobedience. Last week, police even arrested a journalist simply trying to cover the protests.
Here’s more from one of our Center for American Progress colleagues:
The Moral Mondays movement, which is gaining support from five major Christian denominations, was originally spawned as a response to a regressive tax proposal that threatened to cut taxes for North Carolina’s wealthiest 5 percent while also raising taxes on the other 95 percent. But as the movement nears its third month, advocates are expanding their criticisms to include a growing list of extreme bills and laws endorsed by the Republican-dominated state leadership. These proposals, many of which have already passed through the state legislature, would:
– Block the expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina
– Institute discriminatory voter ID laws
– Cut preschool for 30,000 children and move $90 million originally slotted for public education to an expanded school voucher program
– Allow for hydraulic fracking in the state.
– Repeal the Racial Justice Act, a 2009 law that allows death row inmates to appeal their conviction if they prove that racial bias played a role in their sentence.
In addition, many of the advocates are expressing concern about proposed budget cuts to state unemployment benefits, which would deprive 70,000 North Carolinians of much-needed assistance if the law is allowed to take effect on June 30th. Over time, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that if the government benefits are allowed to expire, as many as 170,000 people in North Carolina could lose extended federal benefits.
BOTTOM LINE: North Carolina shows just what the extreme right will do when they get control of all of the levers of power and isn’t pretty. Women, children, workers, voters, and even clean air and water are falling prey to this vicious assault, but progressive are fighting backing and standing up for an economy that works for everyone, not just multi-millionaires and their billionaire friends.
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