“Mostly what we did was pray and sing.”

The Moral Monday protestors who were arrested were offered a deal, which many of them didn’t take:

Although I have never met Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby, according to news reports he has kindly offered me a deal. To avoid Wake County’s mounting court costs, he wants me to forgo my court date Monday and instead perform 25 hours of community service at an agency of my choice. Then my record would be wiped clean.
You see, on May 6, I was arrested in front of the appropriately colored golden doors of the N.C. General Assembly chambers. I was charged with three misdemeanors: failing to disperse when ordered to by the chief of the Capitol Police, illegally assembling with three or more people and singing, shouting and waving a placard. More than 900 other people decided to join me in the pokey. If all of us Moral Monday arrestees go to trial, the Wake County Courthouse will be a very busy place for the next several years.
I am not going to accept his nice offer as I did nothing wrong. I did not resist arrest, and the legislature continued its sessions without interruption. All that we protesters did was shine a light in the darkness of the actions of Gov. Pat McCrory, Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Phil Berger.

It’s good they didn’t take the deal, because the testimony at trial has been interesting:

North Carolina police covertly spied on protesters who were part of the widespread ‘Moral Monday’ demonstrations that shook the state this summer, according to testimony given at a trial for a protester who was arrested in an act of civil disobedience.
At the hearing of Saladin Muammad, a U.S. Army veteran and labor activist arrested on May 13 while at a Moral Monday protest, General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver testified that he received advanced intelligence reports from officers about protesters’ plans ahead of events in which arrests were made.
Deck-Brown told AP over the phone that a plain-clothes officer attended two meetings at the Davie Street Presbyterian Church on May 6 and May 13 at the height of the Moral Monday protests.
“The purpose of the officer’s presence was to determine how many people were expecting to be arrested to allow the department to gauge the sufficiency of the logistical support, such as transport vehicles, available at the Legislative Building,” Deck-Brown told AP.
As Weaver testified that his department had targeted “anarchists” in the region and collected intelligence on them, there was “a murmur of disbelief among the many lawyers attending the Wake County District Court hearing,” the News & Observer reports.
Weaver said his officers, who worked with Raleigh city police, scanned the many Moral Monday rallies for who they believed might be anarchists.
State NAACP president Rev. William Barber said that news of the Raleigh police behavior was concerning. “It’s not like we were planning a bank heist,” Barber said after learning of the surveillance. “Mostly what we did was pray and sing.”

Art Pope is a wealthy person who purchased a political appointment to run the State of North Carolina. Mr. Pope early on developed an extensive database on the protestors, so I’m not clear why police had to spy on them.

Here’s a thought experiment. What if this were happening to members of the Tea Party? Full-bore national scandal with 24/7 media coverage? Some political speech is more equal than others, I guess.

Remember the African-American college student North Carolina county officials tried to keep off the ballot?

He won.

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64 replies
  1. 1
    Elmo says:

    It really hasn’t been all that long since North Carolina and other Southern states were spying on “outside agitators” on a regular basis. It’s not like they would have forgotten how.

  2. 2
    MomSense says:

    I have so many friends who are part of Moral Monday and I wish I could be there with them in person but I am absolutely with them in spirit.
    If this had been the FBI spying on the tea party, Issa would hold hearings and the media would be engaged in 24/7 scandal coverage.
    Also are the NC authorities really that paranoid that they look at Moral Monday and see anarchists?? That is really pathetic.

  3. 3
    RaflW says:

    I don’t think anyone should be surprised by plainclothes police snooping into meetings, but useful none the less to shine a light.

    And as far as Tea Folk having a seizure if the same was done to them? The question practically answers itself. But we will continue to be told, mostly by mouthpieces like Hannity who have popular shows on both a major right wing TV network and a national radio show that the media has a lefty bias. Nothing new under the sun.

  4. 4
    Kay says:

    @Elmo:

    It’s exciting that we’ve made it possible for one wealthy individual to actually purchase a whole state, though.

    Why bother to run for office? Just buy it, and then secure a political appointment. Skip the middleman.

  5. 5
    RaflW says:

    @MomSense: I think they look at Moral Mondays and see the Antichrist. But that’s become slightly controversial to say, so they say anarchist as a sort of code-word.

    That most of the Moral Monday folk have religious ties doesn’t matter. If it ain’t Southern Baptist, its really just Satan with hymns.

  6. 6
    snetzky says:

    The tactics will only get worse the more desperate they will become to turn back the relentless loss of what they assumed would be an eternal priviledge.

  7. 7
    Amir Khalid says:

    Although I have never met Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby

    Can’t help but wonder if that’s a typo.

  8. 8
    Botsplainer says:

    @Kay:

    It’s exciting that we’ve made it possible for one wealthy individual to actually purchase a whole state, though.

    Each of these billionaires has a vision of how they want society run, much like a Bond villain, and they have the resources to buy that vision (and can recoup the up front costs on the back end).

    I wonder what happens when their visions conflict? Do their minions have a requirement to swear fealty, as if unto a warlord? Does our future look like 19th century China?

  9. 9
    MomSense says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Or a sleudian frip.

  10. 10
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Amir Khalid: No, and his photo seems to suggest some intestinal difficulties.

  11. 11
    Kay says:

    @Botsplainer:

    Each of these billionaires has a vision of how they want society run, much like a Bond villain, and they have the resources to buy that vision (and can recoup the up front costs on the back end).

    I’m starting to think we don’t have any jobs because they’re all busy running the public school system and state government.

    Remember when wealthy industrialists actually had “industries”? Before they went full-time into public policy and buying a place at the table to “improve the lives” of the peons?

    At least then we got something in return for their ridiculously outsized clout. How much did Art Pope spend to buy the political system in this state? Why doesn’t he make himself useful and invest in a new business?

  12. 12
    Amir Khalid says:

    @pseudonymous in nc:
    I am now wondering about the names of his siblings.

    ETA: There’s a Colon senior? OMFG.

  13. 13
    Patrick says:

    Here’s a thought experiment. What if this were happening to members of the Tea Party? Full-bore national scandal with 24/7 media coverage? Some political speech is more equal than others, I guess.

    We already know the answer. Look at their crocodile tears over the IRS, while at the same time the teabaggers could care less when the same thing happened to progressive organizations.

    BTW – When right-wingers claim they are against big government, don’t believe them for a second. They had no problem when they controlled the government to spy on the opposition. Abuses of big government is OK when THEY are the ones doing it.

  14. 14
    rikyrah says:

    Yeah Montravias King!!!

    Rachel Maddow did a good segment on this

  15. 15
    Kay says:

    @rikyrah:

    She’s mentioned in the WaPo piece I linked.

    How funny is it that he thinks he won with “older voters” Hah!

  16. 16
    WereBear says:

    If they were going for “Colin,” a fine old British name… they missed.

    I think it’s wonderful, and will burnish up the good side of religion… yes, there is one, but fundamentalists of all stripes have been working hard to show only the evil.

  17. 17
    Cermet says:

    This whole issue is absolutely insane and this is a major reason we are a Fasit police state with monsters like that running fellow worthless thugs called pigs or mistakenly, police. Last I check, the First Amendment of the US Constitution guarantee’s with NO caveats what-so-ever (unlike the so-called right to bear arms) that and I quote:

    The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law … interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.

    Notice the lack of resitictions on our right to petition the Government! Not one law can be passed limiting this absoult right as long as it is peacible – no limits, no laws limiting laws are allowed and we all have absoultly the right to do this! None!

  18. 18
    tybee says:

    If it ain’t Southern Baptist, its really just Satan with hymns.

    pretty funny.

  19. 19
    SectarianSofa says:

    Thanks for the link on the NC student follow-up story (Montravius King). Good to hear. (The moral Monday stories are of course appreciated as well….)

  20. 20
    beltane says:

    @Kay: Our plutocrats of today do not build industries or create wealth. Most of them inherited money from ancestors who built and invested in business, and have used their unearned wealth to demolish whole industries, communities, and now even states, and sell the remaining parts at a profit, distributing a bit of the loot to their minions.

    At this point, it would take an awfully strong purgative to remove these parasites from our system.

  21. 21
    Cermet says:

    @Cermet: Woops – trying to type to fast; meant Fascist Police State! Ugh! Too angry to see straight or think carefully!

  22. 22
    Linda Featheringill says:

    I have long suspected that the Powers That Be don’t realize who they are messing with when they take on the Moral Monday bunch. Not very bright, are they? Have they no sense of history?

  23. 23
    Jack the Second says:

    Why would the Man spy on the Tea Party? You don’t spy on yourself.

  24. 24
    Another Botsplainer says:

    @Jack the Second: Exactly.

  25. 25
    rikyrah says:

    @Kay:

    How funny is it that he thinks he won with “older voters” Hah!

    It’s funny because you don’t think he did, and I think he did.

    You might be thinking older White voters

    and I’m thinking older Black voters who have seen this story and lived it before.

    Some folks in the Black community complain that our ‘ leaders’ hang on too long. I don’t disagree with that, but I also believe that they are waiting to see some of the fight in the youth that they had to have in order to get anything in this society. If you’re an Elder and you lived through Jim Crow and Poll Taxes, you look at a Montravious King and say – he’s got the fight in him….our future will be ok in his hands….

    His fight was their fight 40 years ago….they could relate to him….

    that he was so young willing to take on the fight, probably impressed them more.

  26. 26
    MomSense says:

    @RaflW:

    I have often thought that for all their talk of Christian values, Republicans would hate Jesus if he were to come back today. They would ask for his papers in AZ, stop and frisk him in NYC and spy on him in NC where his message is very much alive in the Moral Monday movement.
    They are talking about feeding, clothing and housing the poor, education- really providing for the least f these. And they are protesting a govt of the wealthy who are enacting laws that benefit the wealthy at the expense of poor children and families.

  27. 27
    Roger Moore says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    I am now wondering about the names of his siblings.

    His brother is named Virgule and his sister is Tilde.

  28. 28
    Roger Moore says:

    @Linda Featheringill:
    I think TBTB know exactly who they’re taking on with the Moral Monday bunch. Just because they lost back in the 1950s and 1960s doesn’t mean that they’ve given up and aren’t willing to keep fighting today.

  29. 29
    Botsplainer says:

    @beltane:

    Our plutocrats of today do not build industries or create wealth. Most of them inherited money from ancestors who built and invested in business, and have used their unearned wealth to demolish whole industries, communities, and now even states, and sell the remaining parts at a profit, distributing a bit of the loot to their minions.

    Actually, it makes a sort of perverse sense. Once you have so many resources that you can’t really do anything on a business or personal level to fail, what more is there to do? Risky outdoor adventure requires mental courage (you don’t see Richard Branson taking over governments), and guys like Gates and Allen know how hard they worked. For the rest, all they have left for a challenge is to bend society to their superior wisdom or genes.

  30. 30
    👾 Martin says:

    Glad to see someone is taking the Presbyterian anarchist threat seriously. Been warning about that one in my newsletter for ages.

  31. 31
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Kay: In the case of Andrew Carnegie, we got libraries. Free public access to information and learning. Carnegie had the use of the private library of one of his early employers and he wanted to make that experience available to as many people as possible. Although the town/city/village would have to be able to sustain the operation of a library, he gave them the building.

    Whatever else he and other of his robber baron colleagues were, he did believe in libraries and we are better off for this.

  32. 32
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Kay:

    How much did Art Pope spend to buy the political system in this state? Why doesn’t he make himself useful and invest in a new business?

    His old businesses don’t do much for the peons, either, beyond separate them from their money in exchange for crap. I’m not sure how much attention the site criteria for new store locations has gotten outside of NC, but it doesn’t get much more blatant than this.

  33. 33
    Roger Moore says:

    @👾 Martin:

    Glad to see someone is taking the Presbyterian anarchist threat seriously.

    But the fools are totally ignoring Unitarian Jihad!

  34. 34
    Scott S. says:

    @MomSense: Yeah, you transport the teabaggers back to the first century, and they’d be in the coliseum screaming “Give us Barabbas.”

  35. 35
    Higgs Boson's Mate (Crystal Set) says:

    an·ar·chist
    anərkist
    noun
    1. a person who believes in or tries to bring about anarchy.

    an·ar·chy
    anərkē
    noun
    1.a state of disorder due to absence or nonrecognition of authority.

    General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver was looking for anarchists in the wrong place. There are a whole herd of them roughly 200 miles NNE of Raleigh.

  36. 36
    karen says:

    Isn’t the spying illegal?

  37. 37
    Roger Moore says:

    @Botsplainer:

    guys like Gates and Allen know how hard they worked.

    I don’t know as much about Allen, but Gates has not refrained from mucking about with government. He’s a supporter of school “reform”.

  38. 38

    @Botsplainer:

    I wonder what happens when their visions conflict?

    That is exactly what is happening in the House of Representatives right now. The Koch Brothers are batshit insane enough to spend way more money than the other billionaires, and have bought a bunch of Reps who are doing exactly the opposite of what the Chamber of Commerce wants.

  39. 39
    AliceBlue says:

    @PurpleGirl:
    Also, Henry Ford paid his employees enough to be able to buy the cars they built (his other faults notwithstanding).

  40. 40
    lumpkin says:

    Glad to see our courageous democratic leaders out there holding congressional hearings, speaking in outraged tones to the media and making sure this gets some national attention and hanging this around the neck of the gop….or not.

  41. 41
    jibeaux says:

    The anarchist thing kills me. One, it’s not illegal to be an anarchist. Two, if your objection to the government is that it’s not spending enough on the poor and on kids, you’re probably not an anarchist. And three, what does an anarchist look like? There are precious few Johnny Rotten lookalikes in those mug shots. The whole room should’ve collectively gasped for that little revelation.

  42. 42
    Kay says:

    @Roger Moore:

    but Gates has not refrained from mucking about with government. He’s a supporter of school “reform”.

    Why can’t they stay in the private sector? Seems like there’s plenty of opportunity to apply free market principles to…markets :)

    If he really wants to help children in Cleveland he can start a business with all that dough and hire their parents! It’s a win/win.

    Plus, my 5th grader (and his teachers) won’t be subjected to his crackpot education theories.

  43. 43
    TheWatcher says:

    @Jack the Second: Stalin would respectfully disagree.

  44. 44
    celticdragonchick says:

    @MomSense:

    They would ask for his papers in AZ, stop and frisk him in NYC and spy on him in NC where his message is very much alive in the Moral Monday movement.

    The great Irish band Morning Star had a song about this sort of thing as it happened in Northern Ireland (alas, the band no longer seems to be around. They were one of the better Celtic traditional bands out there on the East coast)

    When they came for the Bishop of El Salvador,
    He was saying a mass there for the poor
    Man of God, man of the people
    And not some cleric in a steeple
    Now I’ve often said, you’ve got to do what’s right
    Got to live the liberating word of Jesus Christ
    The white hand was marked upon the chapel door
    When they came for the Bishop of El Salvador

    The shots were heard for near and far
    But I don’t think they heard them in Armagh
    When the hierarchy tells you to bow your head
    And don’t ask questions when you bury your dead
    Now don’t fight back, don’t do anything
    ‘Cause if you do, then it’s a sin
    And when you sin here, they send you straight to Hell
    But we’re already there just as far as I can tell

    So hey Cardinal Daly, what have you got?
    Another poor boy in a wooden box
    And you really didn’t care about him
    No brother, no priest. no politician friend
    He wasn’t anyone that you would know
    He took a hundred bullets on a lonely road
    So save your condemnation, save your breath
    You can use it for excuses for the SAS

    You’ve got missionaries comin’ out of Maynooth
    Gonna preach the Word of God and tell the truth
    “Liberation theology” from here to Sudan
    From the Straits of Magellan to the Yucatan
    And when they come home, to see their families
    They sit down to quiet cups of tea
    You let them preach revolution wherever they roam
    Once they don’t bring the revolution home

    ‘Cause when they came for the Bishop of El Salvador
    He was saying a mass there for the poor
    Now the poor they pray for him
    There’s another tin shack his picture isn’t in…
    Hey Cardinal Daly, Jesus said “I come to liberate!”
    If you saw him coming now I think you’d close your gate
    ‘Cause you don’t want liberators walking through your door
    Don’t want to wind up like the Bishop of El Salvador

    You don’t want liberators walking through your door
    Don’t want to wind up like the Bishop of El Salvador

  45. 45
    celticdragonchick says:

    @jibeaux:

    One, it’s not illegal to be an anarchist.

    For the last 130 years or so, the government has done everything short of targeted assassinations regarding the suppression of “anarchists”.

  46. 46
    feebog says:

    @jibeaux:

    And three, what does an anarchist look like?

    They all have big jug ears and a stupid expression on their face. Oh wait, that’s Louie Gohmert.

  47. 47
    Roger Moore says:

    @Kay:

    Why can’t they stay in the private sector?

    Ego. It’s actually a fairly rare entrepreneur who can found more than one massively successful business, and a very rare heir who can found one, even given the massive bucks they’ve inherited. Because of that, they are afraid of trying to win in the private sector. Instead, they go into the public sector because there’s always a good excuse handy if they fail.

  48. 48
    Jay C says:

    @Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism:

    Is that Art Pope’s company? “Blatant” is IT: with the possible “exception” for West Virginia, ALL his stores are located in former
    slave/Confederate states? Only?

  49. 49
    kideni says:

    About 185 of us were arrested at the Wisconsin State Capitol over the course of about seven weeks, from late July to early September, some multiple times so the citation count came to more than 350. All this for being part of a daily protest during a non-business hour that has been going on peacefully since March 2011 with no problems (other than reminding Republicans that we don’t like what they’re doing) until the Walker administration told the cops to start arresting people. The state justice department tried to get us to sign deals that we would stay away from the Capitol for six months, but no one bit. We’ve all asked for jury trials.

    They’ve tried to spy on us too, though they’re kind of inept. Several Capitol Police officers have attempted to become Facebook friends with activists, but since we know who they are, no go.

  50. 50
    Mike in NC says:

    Wealthy wingnut Art Pope appointed himself Budget Director of NC much the way Dick Cheney appointed himself VP of the USA.

    He approves every nickel his lapdog governor spends, most recently the obscene $230K bathroom upgrades to the executive mansion that McCrory had to distance himself from once the media reported it.

  51. 51
    fidelio says:

    @Roger Moore: Then there’s his Aunt Cedilla…

  52. 52
    Roger Moore says:

    @fidelio:
    Don’t forget his cousin Ampersand, of Mousebat, Follicle, Goosecreature, Ampersand, Spong, Wapcaplet, Looseliver, Vendetta, and Prang.

  53. 53
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Jay C: Did you notice that he wants a population base of at least 25% African-American?

  54. 54
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Roger Moore: He used to have a dog named Asterisk, but the dog crossed the Rainbow Bridge and is now among the stars.

  55. 55
    MomSense says:

    @celticdragonchick:

    Those lyrics are incredible. I’m going to look the band up.

  56. 56
    WereBear says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: Say what one likes about the Bond movies: they have performed an invaluable cultural service.

    It would take paragraphs to explain what the Koch Brothers are doing… or we can simply reference “insane James Bond billionaire villain.”

    So very post-cold war. So very pertinent!

  57. 57
    Roger Moore says:

    @SiubhanDuinne:
    Are you sure you aren’t thinking of his Belgian cousin, Asterix?

  58. 58
    WereBear says:

    @kideni: Awesome work! Thanks for letting us know.

  59. 59
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Jay C:

    Is that Art Pope’s company?

    Yup.

  60. 60
    celticdragonchick says:

    @MomSense:

    here is my email

    dickeyae@guilford.edu

    Contact me and I will try to send you a couple of copied cd’s, since the band has been defunct for some time unfortunately.

  61. 61
    GHayduke (formerly lojasmo) says:

    @lumpkin:

    So you’re the kind of person to comment on the internets rather than paying attention to meatspace?

    Good to know.

  62. 62
    👾 Martin says:

    @Roger Moore:

    But the fools are totally ignoring Unitarian Jihad!

    That is because we sit on their committees like ninjas!

  63. 63
    Jockey Full of Malbec says:

    Here’s a thought experiment. What if this were happening to members of the Tea Party?

    No under-40 white “technologists” pulling in six figures were inconvenienced or offended… just Ordinary Little People.

    So, nothing to see here.

    (I love this fucking country, really).

  64. 64
    burnspbesq says:

    @Cermet:

    Oh, come on. You know better than that. The First Amendment guarantee of free speech has never been interpreted as an absolute bar on any law that might incidentally impinge on speech, or that impses reasonable restrictions on time place and manner.

    Unless your intent is to caricature the ignorance of the Tea Party on matters of Con Law, you haven’t really accomplished anything with that rant.

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