Estimates of more than 80,000 people participated in the “Moral March” in North Carolina on Saturday, when citizens from several Southern states came together to protest the extreme right-wing politics that have taken the state by storm.
A series of new legislations passed by Republicans in North Carolina has left many people up in arms.
The controversial new laws include a refusal to expand Medicaid, a photo I.D. requirement to vote in person, additional rules on abortion, and grants for low-income children to attend public schools that will come from taxpayer dollars.
Opponents of the new legislation are not keeping quiet and they promise that the turnout at the ballot box this year will be just as massive as the turnout for the peaceful march.
The “Moral March on Raleigh” was one of the largest gatherings of its kind, ever since the protests began last spring.
The march was led by NAACP, and officials said the movement is stronger now than ever.
“We return to Raleigh with a renewed strength and a renewed sense of urgency,” president of North Carolina’s NAACP, the Rev. William Barber, said to the huge crowd. “The Moral March inaugurates a fresh year of grassroots empowerment, voter education, litigation and nonviolent direct action.”
North Carolina Central University professor Irv Joyner, one of the organizers of the march, believes that the extreme right wing politics have “started to turn back the hands of progress.” But he also has high hopes that the huge turnout for the marches will send “a message to people in power that people are against what’s going on.”
There were no arrests made at the march this year, which is a stark contrast to last year’s “Moral Monday” rally.
Over 900 arrests were made in 2013, but organizers said they wanted to be careful that no major disturbances or arrests would result from this march.
Despite the peaceful nature of the march, the conservative North Carolina Coalition slammed the event and criticized the supporters of gay marriage and abortion.
“The so-called ‘Moral March on Raleigh’ is anything but moral,” coalition executive director Tami Fitzgerald said in a public statement.
March organizers, on the other hand, say it is the General Assembly that is morally wrong.
“Just about every area that impacts people, this legislature has come in and erased the many gains that have been made over many years,” Joyner said. “We want to elevate the discussion of the issues and the wrongness of what the General Assembly is doing.”