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?