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Gov. says he won't back down to 'Moral Monday' protesters

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CARY, N.C. -

Moral Monday protests are expected to swell in the Capital City Monday as GOP rhetoric toward the protesters gets louder.

Though the North Carolina NAACP initiated the protests, their ranks have been swelled by left-leaning clergy, doctors, advocates for the disabled and others protesting cuts to social programs, changes to voting laws and other issues championed by Republicans and the McCrory administration.

Protesters are also rankled that state lawmakers have decided to forego expanding Medicaid to cover 500,000 people through 2016, even though it would be mostly federally funded.

The demonstrations inside the state legislative building have led to hundreds of arrests since April.

At his party's NC GOP convention in Charlotte Saturday, Gov. Pat McCrory said he was not intimidated by these near-weekly protests.

"Apparently our governor wants to run a fresh southern strategy that excludes rather than includes," N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber said.

McCrory's comments come as state Senator Thom Goolsby published an Op-Ed in the Chatham Journal calling the protests "Moron Monday," and referring to the activists as angry "hippies."

Read Goolsby's comments here

McCrory has not yet responded to the Senator's remarks.

Last Monday, around 1,600 demonstrators gathered outside the North Carolina General Assembly for the mass pray-in, sing-in and teach-in.

More than 100 people were arrested, police said, adding to the more than 150 people arrested so far during previous Moral Monday demonstrations.

Hundreds more waited outside to cheer on those arrested as they were transported to a detention facility.

With Moral Monday, liberal groups are hoping to drum up support in the long-term, William Peace University Professor David McLennan says.

"I'm not sure it's going to make any difference in terms of policy this term," McLennan said. "I think what they're looking forward to is next year -- next year being an election year -- is to keep the base fired up."

Democratic Congressman G.K. Butterfield announced Friday he would join protesters Monday, making him the first federal elected official to join the protest.

"I've been deeply troubled by the severe and unilateral cuts being made by the Republican-led legislature in North Carolina," Butterfield said. "The cuts to healthcare, education and unemployment insurance, just to name a few, disproportionately target low-income people, many of whom I represent in the U. S. House of Representatives."

Monday's protest will include the support of dozens of religious leaders from across the state and be led by several Durham pastors.

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