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An editorial in this morning’s edition of the Greensboro News & Record rightfully echoes many of the themes in Tuesday’s edition of the N.C. Policy Watch Weekly Briefing in its critique of new rules governing access to the state Legislative Building entitled “Protests muzzled.” As the N&R notes:

“Demonstrators took a practical precaution when they entered the legislative building Monday evening. They taped their mouths shut.

How else could they make sure they didn’t ‘act in a manner that will imminently disturb the General Assembly, one of its houses, or its committees, members, or staff in the performance of their duties,’ as prohibited by the new rules approved last week?

….the overly sensitive definition of disturbance and the reference to an ‘imminent’ disturbance leave too much to personal whim. Interpretation can be as strict as someone in authority wants it to be. When it comes to dealing with people who convey dissatisfaction with the authorities, the rules might be applied very strictly indeed.

These rules tell the public there will be little tolerance for verbal expression by visitors. They had better just remain silent from the time they enter until they leave — and the sooner they leave, the better….

Of course demonstrators should not be allowed to create a real disturbance in the legislative building. They should not make so much noise that committee meetings or floor sessions are disrupted. They should not block anyone’s way.

That kind of real trouble occurred rarely, if at all, last year. But it bothered lawmakers just the same to have people come into their building and protest their policies.

Except, of course, it’s not their building. It belongs to the people, who have a right to express themselves about policies that affect them. When they come in, they shouldn’t have to tape their mouths — not even figuratively.”

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

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Abortion protestIt’s hard to say what’s most outrageous and offensive in and around the North Carolina public policy world these days: the blatant special interest vote buying, the astonishing greed of giant corporations and their hired gun lobbyists, the not-so-thinly veiled racist pandering that oozes out of some of the far right advocacy groups, the raw political ambition that underlies the Phil Berger-Thom Tillis fight or Gov. McCrory’s ongoing impression of The Invisible Man.    

Here’s another leading candidate for today, however: the just plain meanness and nastiness of the folks running things on Jones Street. This has been evident on numerous occasions throughout the year – in the contempt for the democratic process and the right to be heard that’s constantly on display, in the way legislative leaders (particularly Senators like Tom Apodaca and Jerry Tillman) use rude, bullying language and tactics vis a vis their fellow lawmakers and members of the public, and in the dramatically ramped-up presence of law enforcement officers brandishing handcuffs, cameras and snarls on their faces.

This latter phenomenon was in full swing this morning as several hundred frustrated citizens — a large proportion of them moms toting their infant children — gathered in and around the Senate chamber to listen and watch as Senators finished off the dirty and disingenuous deed they commenced last night to make abortion a virtual impossibility in North Carolina.  Read More

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Student protest 2It’s beginning to look more and more like this will be a spring and summer of protest and direct action against the ongoing corporate takeover of state government. This week featured multiple demonstrations and 20 arrests of peaceful demonstrators in Raleigh.

Now, organizers are calling for another mass demonstration next Tuesday May 7 at 3:00 pm at the General Assembly. Stay tuned for more details.

Meanwhile, click here for information on how you can contribute to the legal defense fund for the students arrested yesterday. You can read more about the students’ positions and decisions by clicking here.