Pointing out that Republicans in North Carolina, and nationally, have previously supported the state’s EITC and extended benefits for the long-term unemployed, Barber described the current General Assembly as “not a Republican legislature—it’s not mainstream—it’s not a Democratic legislature—it’s an extreme legislature.”
The Moral Mondays movement, he said, sought to use “tools of social justice” as a means of “exposing the level of extremism.”
Earlier in the day, Barber added, he and other organizers offered “a bible study in all of the major faith traditions inside the legislature for legislators to come, if they would, to learn what the true moral foundations of faith are when it comes to public policy.”
And the sit-in was the first major challenge to new rules that were imposed earlier this month by the Legislative Services Commission—which hadn’t convened since 1999 and hadn’t amended its rules since 1987—now banning activities that are deemed to “disturb, or create an imminent disturbance” that hinders “the General Assembly, one of its houses, or its committees, members, or staff in the performance of their duties” and could “include singing, clapping, shouting, playing instruments or using sound amplification equipment.”
But Barber dismissed the rules changes, saying, “They want us to chase those side issues.” According to him, the real concern is that when it comes to the “deep, moral, life and death issues” affecting North Carolinians, the state’s elected officials have violated the public trust.
“Leadership is supposed to do what is best for the good of the whole, not what is best for the whims of a few, the wealthiest and the lobbyists that come in.”
Editor’s note: Previously, this article incorrectly described a protestor as having cerebral cancer.
David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.