Cynematic and Donna welcomed North Carolina education advocate and blogger Ilina Ewen to this morning’s podcast to talk about the state’s descent into GOP madness — and Moral Mondays, the progressive communities efforts to fight back.
“We have sort of been following in Wisconsin’s footsteps here in North Carolina,” Ilina told us. “We have had every Monday on the lawn of our legislative building something called Moral Mondays, where people come out in peaceful protest of the decisions our general assembly has been making.”
They have been in power only for a few months — this is just the first time in over 80 years that North Carolina has had the entire general Assembly and Governor under Republican leadership. So they have very quickly started slashing all of the progress that our bipartisan Democratic leadership has done over the last 80 to 90 years. They are slashing education, they have opted not to fund Medicaid, they’re cutting unemployment, they are approving fracking in our state. Everything horrible that you can imagine happening to a society is happening right now in North Carolina.
So these crowds — thousands of people are descending on the legislature in peaceful protest. There are speakers who talk about the issues, there are some brilliant signs that people have. And people come from all over the state, they bring kids. One of the things that I have marveled at participating in these protests is just how amazingly diverse the crowd is there. People of all colors, races, ages, backgrounds, it’s really heartening to see.
The Moral Monday protests began in April and are continuing, even though the legislature is currently in recess (this week, they brought the protests to Asheville and will be moving to different cities until the lawmakers return to Raleigh). People who are exercising their free speech rights are being arrested. Progressives who want to show their support should visit the North Carolina NAACP and the North Carolina Planned Parenthood Action Fund; organizations who are leading the protests and paying to bail out the arrested protesters.
During the course of the interview, we talked about the motorcycle safety law that had a last-minute anti-abortion clause tacked on to it last month, which Governor Pat McCrory signed (after vowing during his election campaign not to sign any changes to the state’s abortion laws), as well as McCrory’s insulting peace offering of cookies to women who protested it. We also discussed the tentacled reach of North Carolina’s very own billionaire puppetmaster, Art Pope, who is now in charge of the state’s budget. (See how insidious this man is in this New Yorker profile from a couple of years ago — it will make you shudder.)
Ilina also told us about provision in the newly ratified North Carolina budget which allows armed militias in the state’s public schools.