N.C. NAACP threatens mass sit-in at State LegislatureBy Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Contributor / March 24, 2017
In a continuing effort to force the Republican-led N.C. General Assembly to back-off, if not repeal various “extremist” laws and measures, the N.C. NAACP Tuesday rallied supporters from across the state at the Legislative Building in Raleigh, lobbying lawmakers to work with them, or else.
The “or else,” according to Rev. William Barber, president of the N.C. NAACP, could be thousands of chapter members and supporters returning to Jones Street in a few weeks, and conducting a mass sit-in at each legislator’s office.
“They’re really trying a political coup,” Rev. Barber told his gathering on the Halifax Mall behind Legislative Building, noting how laws are being considered to remove traditional powers from Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper; allow concealed guns on college campuses; and makes it illegal to be a whistleblower if employees see injustice or fraud.
“We may have to go in there again, and some of us are thinking about having a mass sit-in, where we sit-in every room, every hallway…all the sidewalks … and if they want to arrest us, they’ll have to arrest 5,000 people.”
That’s considered nonviolent “direct action,” organizers say. But there are important steps, like educating lawmakers on the issues, and negotiating with them. Barber also stressed that before any direct action, there must be “self-purification” so that demonstrators are acting with righteous purpose, not their egos.
Several weeks ago the N.C. NAACP, joined by national NAACP Pres. Cornell William Brooks, called for a national boycott of North Carolina if GOP lawmakers continued to draw racially gerrymandered voting districts, and fail to repeal HB2, the notorious “bathroom law” which not only targets members of the LGBT community, but also restricts municipalities’ ability to raise their minimum wage ordinances.
The state NAACP also announced the filing of a bill that would call for special legislative elections to be held now because the current legislature is “unconstitutional.” The civil rights group adds that because the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled last year that because the 2011 legislative map was unconstitutional due to racially gerrymandered districts, then the legislature elected based on that map is unconstitutional.
A federal court ruled that lawmakers were to redraw the map by March 15, and have special elections planned beginning in September, however that ruling was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has not ruled either for or against as of yet.
There are also bills that the NC NAACP supports passage of, including HB303 – the Voter Freedom Act, which would protect North Carolina voters from being improperly challenged during the 25 days prior to an election; HB233 –the “Ban the Box” law which will help formerly incarcerated individuals qualify for employment without initially divulging their previous criminal history; and also HB13, which provides greater flexibility in class sizes and would prevent mass teacher layoffs in programs such as art, music, physical education and languages.