With Moral Monday protests not showing any sign of abating, the eye is on the North Carolina legislature and governor for their response. What will they do? Will they listen to these constituents? Will they offer a dialogue for discussing why they ramrodded bills through the legislature that will restart executions, slash funding for public education while at the same time allocating $50 million for school vouchers, deny Medicaid for 500,000 poor North Carolinians including pregnant women, cut taxes for the rich and raise them for the poor?
So far, Thom Goolsby, a state senator (NC-9, R-New Hanover), and Gov. McCrory have made news with their responses to the demonstrations and then made more news with their responses to criticisms of their responses.
Goolsby wrote an op-ed piece that appeared in a weekly newspaper 162 miles away from his district days after the Monday demonstration, in which he called the demonstrators "morons" and "clowns." He also dubbed Moral Mondays "Moron Monday" and called the entire demonstration, not surprisingly, a "circus." (Read my blog about the op-ed piece here ). He has received many criticisms regarding this piece, from strong condemnations from newspapers statewide, including an editorial in the Star News, a newspaper published in his district, to tweets and Facebook posts and letters to the editors denouncing his piece.
When the criticisms started to pour in, Goolsby's response was that it was all a joke, saying, "Can't we laugh at ourselves anymore?"
On the other hand, Gov. McCrory talked to the press during the protest on June 3 in which he was recorded stating his reason for not talking to the protesters. He insisted that the demonstration was "unlawful" (North Carolina Constitution states in Section 12 that "The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances; but secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people and shall not be tolerated".) On the following Saturday during the state GOP convention, McCrory stated that he won't "back down",, citing explicitly Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' song of the same title. He continued to state that the demonstrations are staged by "outsiders" although arrest records show that 98% of those arrested on June 10th were from North Carolina.
On June 10th a group of about 50 people, including school children, attempted to deliver a petition signed by 16,000 advocating for public schools. McCrory was supposedly "in a meeting" and unavailable. However, an AP photo taken at the time this was happening showed the governor throwing a baseball.
When asked about the photo McCrory had two different responses on two different days. His response on Tuesday was that he was following Michelle Obama's advice to exercise. Then on Wednesday he was caught McCrory was shown in a video saying he had caught baseball fever thanks to the Wolfpack (NC State) and the Tar Heels (UNC Chapel Hill) playing in the College World Series.
In the mean time, on June 14th, a group protesters turned up on Capitol lawn to play baseball. chanting "hey batter batter, public schools matter!" The NAACP of New Hanover County, Goolsby's district, has buses scheduled to travel to Raleigh from Wilmington, the county seat, for Moral Monday protest on June 17th.