yaraYesterday in Raleigh, I was found guilty of second-degree trespass for being in the rotunda of the General Assembly on May 13.

The photo above is of Yara Allen being on arrested the same day I was. We sang all the way to jail, and she was tried and found guilty with me yesterday.

I was at the legislative building with Yara and others who were trying to get the ultra-conservative legislative leaders to hear why we oppose their onslaught of laws harming working people, women, children, voters and the poor.

My issue was health care, and I carried a photo of my son, Michael, who died from lack of access to care.

I had tried writing, e-mailing, calling and even going in person with Rev. William Barber to see House Speaker Thom Tillis. He literally ran away from us.

In this year alone, about 2,800 people will die because they lack access to health care. We could prevent it by expanding Medicaid, but these people refuse to do that, even though it costs states nothing to expand Medicaid until 2017, and then it’s just 10 percent of the costs that states will have to bear.

For that little cost, we could save 2,800 human lives every year. They don’t care.

These same legislators slashed access to abortion, saying they’re pro-life, but they’re not. They’re anti-abortion, and that’s different. Pro-life means you want to save people’s lives even AFTER they emerge from the birth canal.

I also oppose the slashing of unemployment benefits and the massive cuts to education, the dangers to the environment and of course, the arrogance of these people.

We in the Moral Mondays movement went into the General Assembly building to be heard, and we were arrested because they could hear us.

Yesterday, the judge merged eight cases. She gave the state six hours to present its case and then rushed through the defense, continually asking our attorneys to hurry it up because of the “late hour.” In all, we had less than two hours to present the defense of eight people.

The judge found the two men not guilty and the six women guilty, even though we all did the same thing.

We all were welcomed into the building as officers held the door for us. We were singing as we entered the building, so they can’t say they didn’t know what our intentions were. In fact, the chief of the General Assembly police stood outside the building. He could have stopped us, but he let us in. More officers showed us where to go once we were in the building. Then, a few minutes later, those same officers arrested us for being in the building.

One judge has been hearing most of the cases, and there seems to be no rhyme or reason to her judgments.

Our attorneys use the same arguments trial after trial, but the verdicts are mixed.

We were arrested for political reasons. Our freedom of expression was compromised.

One of the women convicted yesterday said she believes we are political prisoners. That might sound harsh, but the police chief was asked by the DA to just issue citations, and he refused. He arrested us to try and intimidate others.

He heard my testimony yesterday and told me afterward that he didn’t know the significance of the photo I carried at the protest. He said he can’t imagine the pain of outliving a child. I told him I hope he never has to bear it.

So, I am a convicted criminal because of my “political” view that everyone deserves access to health care. I am in good company. There are 941 of us here in NC just for this one movement. But there are thousands more — tens of thousands more — in the American history books, not to mention millions more around the world who have stood up to tyrants.

Right now, we rabblerousers are more popular that the NC legislature because people understand what’s at stake.

I’m not giving up. My attorney has filed an appeal already. I refuse to be intimidated by this immoral crew in Raleigh. I am not afraid, and I will not back down.



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