The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP announced Friday the sixth week in a series of protests that have led to the arrests of more than 300 people.
Chapter president the Rev. William Barber said clergy from across the state will lead the group's latest demonstration against policies of the Republican-controlled legislature Monday. The group's demonstrations have grown in size every week since they started in April, most recently drawing more than 1,600 by some estimates. The number of arrests has grown too.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People will follow up the protest with an event Wednesday to mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights activist Medgar Evers. The group will also announce details of a voter registration tour.
The NAACP and its supporters oppose the social, economic, voting and education policies of the Republican-led General Assembly. They single out decisions to forgo Medicaid expansion under federal health care reform, cut unemployment insurance and end the earned income tax credit, among other policies.
"The great moral issue of our time is how do we deal with poverty, how do we deal with the sick and the unemployed," Barber said.
The protests drew a rebuke earlier this week from Gov. Pat McCrory, who called them "unlawful" and a drain on resources. Handling the near-weekly demonstrations has forced local law enforcement to direct extra manpower to the legislature on Mondays.
Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby also weighed in earlier this week, saying the arrests clog the courts and consume his office's time. The first wave of arrested protesters, including Barber, is due in court late this month.
Barber dismissed the criticism, calling it a deflection to focus on "a symptom rather than a cause."
"Maybe it's because he can only defend this legislature's actions in the echo chamber of the tea party," he said.
Barber said in another interview that the group will call for another mass rally along the lines of its most recent demonstration later this month.
The group has also sought to give its movement a broader reach. Penda Hair, co-director of the civil rights group Advancement Project, said the policies being enacted in North Carolina form a model of far-right reform that will be replicated elsewhere.
"I would say it's a national struggle being waged in a particular state, because when we monitor legislation across the country what we are seeing in North Carolina right now is one of the most regressive, illegal agendas anywhere in the country, and we know that this is a national plan because we have discovered that there are entities that are coming up with these ideas and fanning them out to the states," she said.