Friday, August 30, 2013

NC NAACP's Position on State Prosecutor's Offer to People Who Were Arrested


30 August 2013  

For More Information:  Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, 919-394-8137

                          Atty. Jamie Phillips Cole, Public Policy Coordinator, 919-682-4700

                          Atty. Irving Joyner, Legal Redress Chair, 919-682-4700

                          Atty. Al McSurely, Communications Chair, 919-682-4700

While Grieving the Unconstitutional Laws at the General Assembly

DURHAM - The purpose of the Moral Monday Movement has always been to shine the clear light of justice on the extreme regressive policies of the Pope-Koch financed group that took over the NC Republican Party a few years ago.  This regressive group secretly engineered a race based gerrymandering scheme that was not subject to a veto by Gov. Perdue in 2010.  This most race based redistricting plan since the 19th Century - that stacks, packs and bleaches the African American and minority vote - allowed them to seat a "super-majority" in the People's House on Jones Street, although a majority of the voters voted against them! 

            The North Carolina NAACP has chalked up eight years of experience fighting the shadowy Pope-Koch forces. We watched them insinuate their mean-spirited policies into the public discourse.  While we built a broad progressive coalition of over 150 partners in our Historic Thousands on Jones Street Movement . . . while we helped pass laws that strengthened democracy and fairness in our beloved North Carolina . . . the Pope-Koch forces of bias, and backwardness took over Mr. Lincoln's Grand Old Party and made a U-Turn on Jones Street, promoting and passing an agenda that assaulted moral, human, and constitutional rights of the vast majority of North Carolinians - evidenced by the new voter suppression law, the worst and most vulgar attempt to manipulate elections in this country.

             On April 29, 2013, after Gov. McCrory, Speaker Tillis, and Senate Leader Berger repeatedly refused to meet with NAACP leaders, 17 leaders from the NAACP and its partners, after much prayer, decided to test the North Carolina Constitution's protections of their rights in the radical situation the extremist's assaults on the people had created.  In the rotunda of the People House on a beautiful Monday evening while the General Assembly was not in session,   the 17 prayed, sang, and held up small signs with moral sayings on them.  They were handcuffed, arrested, and bused to the Wake County jail, charged with three misdemeanors.  For the next 12 Monday evenings-- and a couple of  Moral Wednesdays when we honored our martyrs who had given their lives to win the rights which the Koch-Pope forces disrespect with their rhetoric and their laws--over 900 more people bore moral and constitutional witness in the same manner.  Each was arrested, handcuffed, and most were charged with three identical misdemeanors.

The NC NAACP believes North Carolina's Constitution in Article 1, Sec. 12 protects the people who hold small signs, make plain-spoken statements, pray to God, and sing songs of freedom and justice, in the well of the General Assembly's rotunda, about their grievances.  We ask Speaker Tillis and Senate Leader Berger, what is it about this clear statement of the rights of the people you don't understand?

The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct

their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances.

--North Carolina Constitution Article I (Statement of Rights), Section 12.

Bargaining for Justice

The State Prosecutor, perhaps conscious of the extra work his team of able assistant prosecutors will have, has made public the State's offer to dismiss the three charges leveled by the General Assembly Police against the moral witnesses, presumably at the direction of Mr. Tillis and Mr. Berger.  He has offered that, in return for an admission of wrongdoing, completing 25 hours of community service, and payment of $180 in court costs, he will dismiss the charges.

This is an offer the North Carolina NAACP does not advocate. We understand and endorse the moral and political power that over 940 people might bring to their communities from doing the community service.  But we do not support the extracting of admissions of wrongdoing and the payment of a ransom in the form of court cost for engaging in actions that are clearly protected by our Constitution.   The NC NAACP chooses to fight against the ransom the State prosecutor is forcing poor and working people to pay, just because they dared to exercise their constitutional rights.  $180 is obviously easy for some of the Moral Monday defendants to pay-but for many, it is a week's pay; it is grocery money for two weeks.

This Decision is a Personal One

            By the grace of God and the good will of dozens of pro bono attorneys, there is legal representation for those who have made the difficult personal decision to engage in civil disobedience, knowing they would be charged and jailed for what they, and we, believe to be constitutionally protected acts.  Each person, now called a "defendant" by the State, must now make a personal decision whether to take the offer of the State Prosecutor, or stand trial.  This decision should be discussed with their pro bono attorney. 

            The NC NAACP has the greatest respect, love, and gratitude for each of the Moral Monday defendants, whatever their choice.  Whether you decide to serve our community or challenge the constitutionality and legality of the arrests in the court room is between you, your conscience, and your pro bono attorney. We believe this is a win-win situation. Some will fight in the courts and challenge the injustice occurring in the General Assembly. Some will serve and spread love rather than the hate-filled rhetoric and policies of the regressive legislators. We applaud the over 940 Moral Monday 'defendants' for whatever decision they make.            


Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the United States and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities. The NC Conference of NAACP Branches is 70 years old this year and is made up of over 100 Adult, Youth and College NAACP units across the state, convenes the more the 150 members of the Historic Thousands on Jones Street (HKonJ) Peoples Assembly Coalition, and is the architect of the Moral Monday & Forward Together Movement.  


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