Why I Was Arrested for Peacefully Protesting a Radical Legislative Agenda
By Renée Maas
North Carolina’s citizens and their civil liberties have been under steady attack lately by the corporate-backed American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), as well as several members of our out-of-control legislature. But with Moral Mondays, citizens are showing that there is a growing movement in the state to fight back, which should inspire communities everywhere.
These citizens came out in droves last Monday—and I was even arrested as part of a peaceful action—to fight a corporate agenda that includes radical policies that, among other things, would force municipalities to hand over their water services to unelected boards without compensation and rush to open our state to fracking. Thankfully, the NAACP and other allies have created a way for those of us who feel misrepresented to express our displeasure with ALEC and the state legislature: Moral Mondays.
Of course, while expressing freedom of speech is critical to this movement, it doesn’t always come without its challenges. Sixty-four participants got arrested for civil disobedience and charged with trespassing inside the General Assembly building, failing to disperse when asked to leave, and—my personal favorite—singing loud songs while holding unauthorized protest signs.
This week’s arrests bring the total to 700 over the last ten weeks. Arrestees included members of the clergy, the CEO of North Carolina’s Planned Parenthood, professors, retirees, students, food servers, teachers, advocates and even elderly men and women in walkers and wheel chairs.
People are really tired of having our democracy weakened and made ineffective. North Carolina, like many states, now has a state legislature that is not representative of most residents in the state. In recent years, legislative districts have been gerrymandered by a fringe element that is funded by polluters like the Koch brothers.
Some legislators and critics have deemed the protest “Moron Mondays” or even “Money Mondays,” but after so much media attention from across the country, we know that critics are just part of the strategy that has been commonly attributed to Mohandes Gandhi: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, and then you win.”
Denying hospice care to sick people is just wrong. Eliminating 17,500 pre-school slots for four-year-olds is just wrong. Eliminating tax credits for 64,000 military families is just wrong. The people of North Carolina deserve better. Thankfully, Moral Mondays allow us to come together and fight for what we deserve.