RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Twelve protesters were led away in zip ties Tuesday as part of a demonstration calling for social justice on issues ranging from gun control to poverty relief at North Carolina’s legislature.
About 100 people gathered near North Carolina’s statehouse to hear a speech by the Rev. William Barber, leader of the revived Poor People’s Campaign. After the speech, 12 demonstrators were arrested and charged with misdemeanor trespassing after marching into a nearby building where lawmakers were debating the state budget, General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock said.
Barber used a wide-ranging speech to decry North Carolina legislators’ budget priorities as part of his campaign’s third week of demonstrations at statehouses around the country. Barber gained nationwide attention for his nonviolent protests as head of North Carolina’s NAACP before moving on to head a revival of the campaign, which was first launched during the civil rights era.
“They are more interested in arresting protesters and blocking the voice of the people — they are more interested in that — than they are interested in providing health care,” he said of North Carolina lawmakers. “They are more interested in arresting protesters than they are in providing living wages.”
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After the speech, dozens marched into the Legislative Office Building nearby, where a joint House and Senate committee was holding a hearing on tax portions of the state budget. Barber wasn’t among those who went inside.
After a few demonstrators made it into the hearing, the rest of the protesters stood in the hallway and recited loud chants including: “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
The protest caused a delay of about 20 minutes in the committee hearing.
Soon, several protesters were led out of the hearing room, one-by-one, in white zip ties by police officers. An officer then used his bullhorn to warn those in the hallway to disperse. More were led away in zip ties after repeated warnings, for a total of 12 arrests. The rest of the protesters eventually left peacefully.
In two prior North Carolina protests this year, about 60 people were arrested while demonstrating against Republican policies in the state. The Poor People’s Campaign plans a total of six weeks of nonviolent demonstrations at statehouses around the country and in Washington, D.C.
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