One of North Carolina's top civil rights leaders urged residents on Monday to organize non-violent protests to bring attention to what he considers a Republican crusade against poor and minority residents.
William Barber of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for action against the GOP supermajority in the state legislature, but he did not announce specific plans to demonstrate against a voter identification bill expected Wednesday in the House.
The bill that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls is one of many Barber has attacked as part of a wider agenda targeting poor and minority voters. He also has criticized action against expanding Medicaid under federal health care reform, cutting unemployment benefits, ending the state's earned income tax credit, promoting charter schools and changing voting periods or adding new restrictions.
"When you look at the attack on the sick, the attack on the unemployed, the attacks on education, the attack on the incarcerated, the attack on fundamental voting rights and combine all of that together, we are at a crisis," Barber said.
While he said action might not come Wednesday, civil rights leaders are hopeful they can change some minds as they bring attention to broader issues of voting rights.
"If not, and looking at what's happened, we're looking very seriously at how the courts will be used ... how will our pulpits be used, how will we use voter registration, how will we use the gift of prayer, and yes, how will we use the moral stance of civil disobedience," he said.
The voter ID bill has passed two committees over the opposition of Democrats, who argue it adds new barriers to combat non-existent voter fraud. A 2011 effort to pass voter ID legislation was halted that year by the veto pen of then-Gov. Beverly Perdue. But Republicans now have the numbers to override a governor's check and Gov. Pat McCrory supports the new measure.