N.C. Capitol Police Arrest AFGE’S Cox During Workers’ Rights Protest

RALEIGH, N.C.–North Carolina capitol police, obeying a GOP-passed law restricting access to the state capitol building in Raleigh, arrested American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) President J. David Cox during the latest “Moral Monday” protest there – this one dedicated to workers’ rights.
Cox, AFGE Chief of Staff Brian DeWyngaert and 18 other peaceful demonstrators were shackled with plastic handcuffs, taken away and charged with misdemeanor trespassing.  They were released later on $1,000 unsecured bail each after the June 16 arrests.
The Moral Monday protest, one of the last before the GOP-dominated state legislature adjourns, blasted the lawmakers’ anti-worker actions.  They include the state’s continuing ban on collective bargaining by all public workers, its cuts in unemployment compensation, its denial of health care coverage for the poor and low teachers’ wages.
“Many of these lawmakers have lost touch with the average citizen,” said Cox, a North Carolinian and longtime nurse in a VA hospital there.  “Their laws are denying benefits to unemployed workers, denying health care coverage to low-income workers, and pushing out experienced teachers by suppressing their wages.”
“These policies are wrong for North Carolina and they are wrong for America.”
To stop the protesters, the GOP jammed through legislation limiting noise in the state capitol rotunda and ordered the police to enforce it.  A local judge temporarily had stopped the law as too broad, but the police went ahead anyway.  The North Carolina protesters were arrested after police supposedly got complaints about the noise.
In the rotunda, Cox locked arms with other protesters and chanted the call and response: “Tell me what democracy looks like.  This is what democracy looks like.”  That chant began in 2011 when Right Wing Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker’s anti-union laws brought up to 100,000 people into Madison’s streets.
“North Carolina is my home state, and I will not stand idly by while it is brought to ruin.  I was not ashamed to be arrested – civil disobedience in the defense of justice is no disobedience at all,” Cox said.
Since the Moral Monday protests, led by the state NAACP, started more than a year ago, tens of thousands of people have jammed downtown Raleigh most Mondays.  Almost 1,000, cumulatively, have been peacefully arrested.  The NAACP estimated the June 16 protest drew 1,600 people, while the police contended only 800 came.
The protests, which at one point earlier this year saw women banging pots and pans – reminiscent of protests against dictators in developing nations – object to a wide range of actions by the GOP-dominated state government, from a repressive Voter ID law on down.
-PAI