On Monday, which kicked off the seventh week in a row of what protesters are calling "Moral Monday" demonstrations against state GOP policies, 84 people were arrested at the North Carolina General Assembly building, the Huffington Post reports.
Since the gatherings, first initiated by the state NAACP chapter and its head, the Rev. William Barber, began in April, closer to 500 people have been arrested. Despite the apparent energy behind the movement, participants have been dismissed by state Republican officials as "aged former hippies" and members of the "Loony Left."
Protesters have denounced GOP agenda items such as voter ID legislation, hydraulic fracking, cuts to education spending and the rejection of Medicaid expansion under Obamacare.
“I want the legislators who are intending to roll back our rights to hear our voice and know we’re not in favor of it,” Elizabeth Benefield, a 53-year-old professional fundraiser in attendance, told the Raleigh News and Observer. “There’s too much at stake, and justice will always prevail. They can pretend not to listen, but we cannot be silenced.”
While some state Democrats have joined the rallies, the events have largely been ignored by their Republican counterparts. In a widely circulated column this month, state Sen. Thom Goolsby (R) called the movement "Moron Mondays," prodding its organizers as a bunch of "aged former hippies" and members of the "Loony Left." Gov. Pat McCrory (R) has meanwhile insisted that the protests are "unacceptable" and being fueled by outside interests.
On Monday, researchers sought to test McCrory's theory about people from outside North Carolina stacking the protests. According to WRAL, a groups of researchers surveyed a sample of protesters and found that 311 of 317 of those surveyed were from North Carolina. A review of warrants from last week similarly showed that 98 percent of those arrested were from North Carolina.
Read more at the Huffington Post.