Hundreds of protesters returned to the North Carolina General Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, renewing a call on Republican state leaders to reverse several landmark pieces of legislation approved since 2011.
On the second anniversary of what’s become known as “Moral Monday” rallies, protesters gathered outside the legislative building, while some chanted inside the building beside the Senate and House chamber doors.
After lawmakers complained they could not conduct business because of the chanting outside, General Assembly Police officers arrested 20 protesters. They were charged with violating fire code and trespassing, Lt. Martin Brock said. Protesters -- which included the Rev. David C. Forbes, dean of the Shaw University Divinity School, and at least four other pastors -- were cuffed with white zip cords and taken to the Wake County Detention Center for booking.
"If this legislature is going to crucify the poor, we will awaken the consciousness of the state," said the Rev. William Barber who has led the protests as president of the state chapter of the NAACP.
Protesters have asked lawmakers to expand Medicaid coverage, raise the minimum wage, increase funding for public education and repeal a law that requires people to show state-issued identification to vote.
Senate Leader Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) and House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) have met separately with small groups of protesters. Each stated separately that some of the Moral Monday demands, including expanding Medicaid coverage in North Carolina, would cost tax payers billions of dollars.
Police have arrested more than 1,000 people since rallies started on April 29, 2013.