RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Long-time critics of Republican policies at the North Carolina General Assembly returned to the Legislative Building to press their agenda for expanded health care, the protection of voting and LGBT rights, and a higher minimum wage.
Chants of “shame on you” filled the House gallery as their session ended.
Members of the state NAACP and many allied groups associated with the “Forward Together” movement planned their annual lobbying day for Tuesday.
The “People’s Legislative Advocacy Day” includes participant training and advocacy by knocking on doors of House and Senate members. There was also an early-morning news conference by clergy members and an afternoon rally is planned.
“They lie and they will try to keep us from their offices when we try to make appointments with them. They will not answer the phone. They do all kinds of things to avoid us because they are afraid of us,” said Chapel Hill resident Ruth Zalph.
State NAACP supporters spent the morning letting lawmakers know their concerns. Those concerns include racially gerrymandered districts, expanding Medicaid and the repeal of House Bill 2.
“We stand today insisting that this house, the people’s house, ceases its unjust and hurtful legislation and rise to the high moral ground worthy of being called the people’s house, of the people, for the people and by the people,” said Rev. Nelson Johnson with Faith Community Church.
The state NAACP’s president is the Rev. William Barber, who began in 2013 leading the “Moral Monday” protests at the Legislative Building. Those non-violent demonstrations ultimately resulted in more than 1,000 arrests.
“The GOP is all-white and people need to know that. In the 21st century, you have an all-white caucus that’s passing unconstitutional laws. That is, in fact, illegitimate because without gerrymandering they wouldn’t be in office,” Barber said.
The national NAACP has also talked about potentially conducting a national economic boycott of North Carolina. A decision on that could come in May.
The North Carolina Republican Party has called the talk of a boycott “economic hostage-taking” that would hurt people in the hospitality and other industries.