Historic Thousands on Jones Street this Saturday

As you’re making your weekend plans, don’t forget about Saturday morning’s sixth annual HK on J rally. The “Historic Thousands on Jones Street” people’s assembly will gather at 9:30am at Shaw University before marching to the North Carolina General Assembly.

NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous says the mass demonstration is an opportunity  for citizens to “come together to challenge persistent poverty, unequal education and voter suppression in North Carolina.”

Now if you’re still unsure you want to lace-up your Nikes and leave your warm home on a Saturday morning, N.C. Policy Watch’s Rob Schofield  offers seven reminders from the past legislative session that should offer you some motivation:

Reminder #1 –Thom “Divide and Conquer” Tillis – The following is a direct quote from the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. He said it out loud at a public meeting last fall.

“What we have to do is find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on assistance. We have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no choice in her condition that needs help and we should help. And we need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into a condition that makes them dependent on the government.”

You can watch the video of this amazingly cynical and offensive moment by clicking here.

Reminder #2 – The “back to the 1970’s” state budget – Though the 2011 North Carolina legislative session was clearly the worst in decades on several fronts, the disastrous budget was the crowning “achievement.” At a moment in time in which circumstances and public opinion demanded cooperation to craft a budget that would preserve decades of painstaking progress in education, environmental protection, social services, criminal justice and dozens of other areas, legislative leaders opted instead for a radically reactionary slash and burn approach. As a result, state spending on essential public structures and systems (as a share of total state income) has fallen to the lowest level since the Nixon era. It was a fateful decision, the negative effects of which will be felt for years to come.

Reminder #3 – The marriage discrimination amendmentand the people behind it – Think for a moment about the hate and cynicism that went into the decision to place Amendment One on the May ballot. At one point, one of the chief sponsors – the Number Three man in the state House of Representatives (a man who now wants to be Lt. Governor) – held a press conference in the General Assembly in which he invited speakers to the podium to opine that homosexuality violates “biological rules” ordained by the Almighty. We are not making this up. The amendment sent to the ballot would not just ban same sex marriage; it would ban the extension of benefits to same sex partners and even jeopardize domestic violence protections for people not living in traditional, heterosexual marriages.

Reminder #4 – The “midnight madness” legislative sessions – Where were you at 1:00 a.m. on Thursday January 5? How about at the same hour last June 15?  Hopefully, you were snug in your bed. Unfortunately, that’s not where the members of the General Assembly were. They were in session passing the aforementioned budget and settling a political score with the N.C. Association of Educators in votes highlighted by little-to-no notice and/or limited debate.  Mind you, this was the work of the same legislative leaders who came to power promising a new era “openness and transparency.”

Reminder # 5 – The effort to repeal the Racial Justice Act – Who would make the repeal of a law with such a name (a modest little law that merely attempts to assure that no one is executed in our state as a result of racial bias in his or her criminal trial) a top priority?  And who would attempt to justify such action by manufacturing the excuse that the law might “turn murderers loose” even though the law specifies that the only possible outcome for murderers found to have been discriminated against is life in prison without possibility of parole?

Reminder #6 – The survival of our natural environment – As part of his unending “official announcement” that he is running for Governor this week, the former mayor of Charlotte told at least one interviewer this week that his first major initiative upon taking office would be to pursue a “drill baby drill” approach to oil and gas exploration in our state. By this, he meant opening our precious and fragile outer banks to exploitation of the kind used in the Gulf of Mexico and promoting the potentially disastrous (and currently banned) practice of fracking.

Reminder #7 – The preceding reminders amount to just a small sampling of what has been taking place in our state over the past year. The list of regressive, greed-based and backwards-looking actions and proposals is very long and includes school vouchers, voter suppression, the assault on reproductive freedom, the expansion of concealed weapons and many, many others.

Click here to read Rob’s full Weekly Briefing: “A good time to stand up and be counted.”

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