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Rev. Barber on trial Friday for 'Moral Monday' arrest

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

The Rev. William Barber, the head of North Carolina NAACP, is one of 12 people on trial Friday for the Moral Monday protests.

Barber is charged with a misdemeanor second-degree trespassing charge and a misdemeanor failure to disperse on command. The trials are expected to resume Dec. 3 and Dec. 4. The defense believes it will take more than a couple of days.

After the morning session, Barber defended the protests against laws put in place by the Republican-led General Assembly.

"Whatever we face is a light affliction compared to the affliction that citizens will go through," Barber said.

There were about 100 cases on the docket for Friday but most were moved to Monday.

The police chief of the General Assembly described the police response on Friday morning, and the court saw video of the protests and arrests.

General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver on the stand said he was concerned the protest could become disorderly. He said officers can't predict people's behavior and he was concerned everyone's safety.

"When you're hearing those words, ‘Fight. Fight. Fight.' As loud as it was, and I saw individuals in the support crowd that was chanting and raising their fists as well, emotions were running high. I was worried we could have an incident."

Weaver, in answering questions from the defense, said there are regulations about groups gathering but that singing and praying are allowed.

Barber, meanwhile, told the media, "They want to criminalize constitutional rights and the constitutional right to peaceful and non-violent protests. None of what we have done has been in the dark. Everybody knows it's not rooted in any form of violence, but in the deepest tradition of the non-violence history of our country and our movement."

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