RALEIGH — After nearly 11 hours of sitting, waiting for a lawmaker who never arrived, 14 legislative protesters were arrested at North Carolina House of Representatives Speaker Thom Tillis’ office early Wednesday morning.
According to WTVD, the group is a part of the NAACP-led weekly “Moral Monday” demonstrations and were removed from Tillis’ office, handcuffed with plastic zip-ties and led out of the building one-by-one, escorted by General Assembly police.
All 14 would be charged with 2nd degree trespassing and violation of building rules, General Assembly Lieutenant Martin Brock said.
Police asked the group to leave Tillis’ office eight times and warned them they would be arrested throughout the night.
But they refused to leave.
The group stayed in Tillis’ office after asking to meet with him to discuss repealing Republican-backed legislation. They also want lawmakers to extend Medicaid and reinstate the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Tillis, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate this year, was not in his office when the sit-in started Tuesday afternoon. He presided over the House session just across the hall, but when the House adjourned, did not return to his office or answer protester calls to meet with him.
“This shows the kind of games that they play,” said the Rev. William Barber, president of the state NAACP. “Last year it was arrest them quick and get out. This year, it’s game after game after game instead of coming to the table and repealing these laws that are hurting people.”
By late Tuesday evening, nearing the seventh hour, the atmosphere in Tillis’ office shifted from tense policy confrontation to relaxed chit-chat and laughs.
Tillis’ aide, William Morales, who stayed in the office with the protesters all night, leaned back in his chair and chatted about theater and music with the protesters and read a book.
The sit-in lasted until early Wednesday morning.
Crystal Price, 27, of Greensboro told WTVD that she decided to participate because she’s is struggling to take care of her family on a minimum wage salary. Price has cervical cancer and flips hamburgers at a Wendy’s restaurant. She said she makes $400 a month and has to decide whether to pay for health care for her two children or herself.
Last week about 1,500 people attended the “Moral Monday” kickoff with a silent march through the Legislative Building.
Read more: WTVD