Protesters affiliated with the Moral Monday movement rallied in Raleigh, North Carolina, and staged a sit-in at the office of state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R), as the U.S. Senate candidate tries to hurry along this year's legislative session.
The NAACP and a coalition of other groups returned to the North Carolina General Assembly on Tuesday to protest policy initiatives undertaken by the Republican-controlled legislature last year, including: the refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, reductions to unemployment benefits, cuts to public education, voter identification legislation and legislation restricting abortion access.
Local outlets report that about 150-200 people visited various offices throughout the legislature, including Tillis'.
In an apparent violation of new rules barring protesters from speaking or chanting in a way that would disrupt a normal conversation, those inside the legislature sang "We shall not be moved" as they hunkered down in the rotunda outside Tillis' office.
Last year's Moral Monday events resulted in the arrest of more than 900 protesters. A renewal of the movement could draw negative attention to Tillis as he works to unseat Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.).
In January, Tillis told The New York Times that he wanted this session to "be the shortest it can be."
Tillis has said his main priority this session would be addressing teacher pay. State Democrats argue he is attempting to moderate his public profile with a less inflammatory agenda.
"Speaker Tillis may be looking for political band-aids after the damage he did to North Carolina last legislative session, but there's no escaping his record of public education cuts, raising taxes on the middle class, and rejecting health care for 500,000 North Carolinians," state Democratic Party spokesman Ben Ray told The Huffington Post in an email.
The Rev. William Barber, who is president of North Carolina's NAACP, rejected Republican attempts to characterize the movement as a tool of the Democratic Party.
"We are black. We are white. We are young. We are old. We are Democrats. We are Republicans," Barber said Tuesday, according to WRAL. "We are North Carolina. We are here to stay, and we are not going away."See tweets from the movement's lobbying day below:
'Moral Monday' demonstrators amass in front of House Speaker Tillis' office. pic.twitter.com/0txYO5hK6o
— Gary Robertson (@garydrobertson) May 27, 2014
Protesters outside Tillis' office pic.twitter.com/Rt2G31DafB
— Josh Shaffer (@joshshaffer08) May 27, 2014
Moral Monday demonstrators inside House Speaker Thom Tillis' office pic.twitter.com/bHfk1dVzWh
— Andy Mattison (@AndynewsAndy) May 27, 2014