RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Thousands of people gathered Saturday in downtown Raleigh for the 11th Annual Moral March on Raleigh and HKonJ People’s Assembly.
Organizers of the march say the focus of this year’s event was saving the Affordable Care Act, repealing House Bill 2, ending gerrymandering, opposition to the temporary immigration ban and border wall and equal rights.
The march, led by the state NAACP, also included speakers focused on opposition to actions by President Donald Trump, particularly on immigration. Other rallies held in Raleigh this year have been critical of Trump.
“I march today because to not march today is to condone what’s going on in this state, in this country,” said Jim Bray.
For Bray and some attendees, it was their first formal march.
But for many, rallying is regular and becoming more frequent.
“It is very important to keep doing this every weekend, because there’s like a protest or march every Saturday, and this is not something that will be overlooked,” said Andre Tyson.
The Moral March called for equality and the end of discrimination against minorities.
“It’s an effective way to get your voice heard and to get the issues out there, and it helps other people realize that when you get together with like-minded people you can make effective change,” said Becky Goldman.
After the march to the General Assembly, the day ended with the HKonJ People’s Assembly, held annually on the second Saturday in February.
Trump’s election and the North Carolina law known as House Bill 2 were on the minds of protesters like Dave Ruden of Cary. He says Trump’s presidency has led him and his wife to work for a moderation of fevered national politics.
The march began near Raleigh’s Memorial Auditorium and ended near the old Capitol Building.
Raleigh police don’t provide crowd estimates. Event organizers predicted 20,000 people. The surface area that the crowd covered neared the march’s previous peak from 2014.
The Republican Party released a statement about the march.
“The agenda supported by this march is a march towards bigger and more expansive government, higher taxes and fewer jobs in North Carolina. It is an agenda soundly defeated in four consecutive statewide elections, and does not represent the agenda of most North Carolinians,” said Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the N.C. GOP.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report