Protestors, and their detractors, prep for another 'Moral Monda - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

Protestors, and their detractors, prep for another 'Moral Monday'

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

Civil rights protests of the past mirror those of the present.  That's how the small group inside Raleigh's Martin Street Baptist Church sees the weekly 'Moral Monday' demonstrations at the North Carolina General Assembly.

The group "Scholars for a Progressive North Carolina" hosted a discussion at Raleigh's Martin Street Baptist Church called "Save our State," aimed at educating the public about some of the issues involved in this year's General Assembly session.  The group also drew parallels to protests from decades past, framed in terms of voting rights, wages for teachers and access to affordable healthcare.

"We want the people to know, listen, this is a very dangerous time in North Carolina," Martin Street Baptist Church Pastor Earl Johnson said.  "Some very unprecedented things are taking place and we need your voice."

Liberal protestors are running out of time to voice their opposition to Republicans as this year's session winds to a close.

"This is no time to stay home and not be vocal and not say anything," Johnson said.

Now, Democratic Congressman David Price says he too will join protestors June 24, two weeks after Congressman G. K. Butterfield did the same.

"He adds to the stature of the Moral Monday protest," William Peace University political scientist David McLennan said.

McLennan says protestors may not persuade Republicans to change course, but they will help galvanize Democrats going into next year's midterm elections.

"Moral Monday has very clear policy positions," McLennan said.  "They're against very specific bills in the General Assembly."

But opponents argue the protests are not the groundbreaking engines of change like those from the 1960s.  Jim Tynen is the communications director for the conservative Civitas Institute.

"The times are different.  Problems have changed," Tynen said.  "To me, these Moral Monday demonstrations seem kind of lame."

This week, Civitas actually published the names, mug shots and even the occupations of the hundreds of people arrested on Moral Mondays.  Art Pope, who helped found Civitas, was appointed North Carolina's budget director by Governor Pat McCrory.

"It's all public information available to every citizen," Tynen said, "and again, the demonstrators were seeking to act in civil disobedience, and part of that is going under public scrutiny."

That's not stopping protestors on the left who say Republicans are trying to balance the budget on the backs of the poor, a line heard again at Friday night's church meeting.

"That's been a theme of the Republican party for decades and it has not gone anywhere and that's exactly what they're doing here," Rev. Johnson said.  "It's a shame that they're doing that."

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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