Seventeen civil rights leaders and activists were arrested while holding a pray-in to protest the policies of the Republican-led North Carolina legislature on Monday.
General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver said he used a megaphone twice in an attempt to disperse the protesters, who had entered the state capitol building in Raleigh, but that he was drowned out by the activists singing civil rights anthems, according to local ABC affiliate WTVD.
The 17 protesters arrested, including North Carolina National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) President William Barber, will likely be charged with disorderly conduct, second-degree trespassing and violation of building rules, The Raleigh-based News & Observer reported.
The activists were released on Tuesday after spending the night in jail, per WTVD.
In a news report by CBS affiliate WRAL-TV, Barber said the act of civil disobedience was intended to protest "an avalanche of extremist policies that threaten health care, that threaten education, that threaten the poor."
A letter posted online by the NAACP specifically called out the GOP-led state government for blocking Medicaid expansion, cutting unemployment, cutting tax credits for the working class and promoting policies that defund education, among other grievances. The letter was signed by 36 clergy members and NAACP leaders.
Since taking office in January, Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has slashed programs for the lower classes. In March, he signed a law that will deny health care to about half a million low-income state residents by rejecting Medicaid funding, according to the Charlotte Observer.
That same month, McCrory signed a separate law that repealed a tax credit which had provided financial relief to almost a million low- and middle-income state residents, according to the Triangle Business Journal.
(Hat tip, Raw Story)