During the 2013 N.C. legislative session, nearly 1,000 people were arrested and tens of thousands more mobilized for the Moral Monday demonstrations in opposition to the racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ, anti-worker, and pro-big business agenda of the Tea Party extremists that took power. The actions taken by the N.C. General Assembly should be viewed as nothing short of a criminal and wholesale attack on the people of our state.
The Moral Monday/Forward Together Movement is a mighty force of resistance to the Jim Crow politics and shows the power of building unity across the barriers that are meant to divide us – race, gender, and sexual orientation – especially in this reactionary period.
In recent weeks, many of those arrested have begun to stand trial. The state knows that its case is hollow while the support for the Moral Monday movement is overwhelming. The conviction of the first Moral Monday arrestee to stand trial – Saladin Muhammad – is a dangerous attack on the basic democratic right to protest. Muhammad’s conviction must be fought and overturned, and the charges dropped against all Moral Monday protesters.
Capitol Police Chief Jeff Weaver has used the Moral Monday trials as a stage from which to red-bait, violence-bait, attack, and single out our organization and two members of our organization. This is a conscious effort to remove the focus from the real issues at hand– the criminal policies of the N.C. legislature and the massive resistance that has been awoken. It is also an attempt to criminalize protest, to normalize police surveillance, and to create cracks in the unity that has been the bedrock of the Moral Monday/Forward Together movement.
Listening to Weaver’s testimony, one would think it is now a crime to be a Marxist, an anarchist, or to simply attend demonstrations against the backwards agenda of the N.C. Legislature. He stumbled through 30 minutes of testimony about previous actions that FIST had organized. Weaver also revealed that the Raleigh Police Department’s Threat Assessment Unit has been conducting surveillance on our group and other groups.
Youth & Students Resist Tuition Hikes in the UNC system – March 2010
As the N.C. legislature was set to vote on massive tuition hikes, and after organizing with students across the state to oppose the hikes, FIST helped organize a demonstration of young people and students at the legislature. We held a rally outside and entered the committee meeting where members were voting on the hikes and then requested to speak. When we were denied, youth and students began speaking out about the impact these hikes would have on their ability to attend the UNC system – that education should be a right for all and not a privilege for the rich, and that it would saddle students with more and more debt just to get an education.
High School Students Oppose the Worst Education Budget in Over a Decade – May 2011
Raleigh FIST worked with other organizations to hold a demonstration of 200 young people who marched from North Carolina State University (NCSU) to join more than 8,000 N.C. teachers who were rallying at the legislature. As we rallied outside, the legislature prepared to vote on a draconian budget with massive across the board cuts to education and other vital public services. Members of NC HEAT (Heroes Emerging Among Teens), a high school student-led organization and FIST wanted to speak out and take action in the face of the worst budget in the past decade. They unfurled a banner that read: “Tax Corporations – Bail Out the People – Defend the Public Sector” and disrupted the session as the vote on the budget was being taken, resulting in five arrests.
Since 2004, FIST has organized demonstrations in opposition to U.S. wars abroad, campaigned to kick military recruiters off high school and university campuses, fought against police brutality, demonstrated in solidarity with revolutionary Cuba and other peoples movements across the globe, for immigrant rights, for freedom for political prisoners like Mumia Abu-Jamal and CeCe McDonald, and much more.
Throughout our history, FIST has unapologetically stood on the side of all people in the U.S. and across the globe who are exploited, disenfranchised, and oppressed by the capitalist system. We are not ashamed of being Marxists and believe that fighting for socialism – a system where the people have the power and the vast wealth of society is not monopolized by the 1%, but used to meet the needs of all people – is the only way to put an end to war, poverty, and all forms of oppression and injustice. We stand shoulder to shoulder with all our sisters and brothers, who want to fight back and create a better world – no matter how one identifies politically.
It is not a crime to oppose the policies of the Tea Party legislature or any form of injustice. The real criminals are Governor Pat McCrory, Art Pope, Thom Tillis, and Phil Berger, who have launched an all out assault on the people of this state. They want to bring back Jim Crow, turn back the clock on gains that have been fought and died for throughout our history, and deprive people of the most basic rights. The real criminals are on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms, the militarists who drop bombs on people across the globe, and the 1% who will do anything to preserve the decaying capitalist system that serves only their interests.
The dirty tricks that Weaver and the state are using to divide our movement have been tried before. These attempts to cause confusion and division demonstrate that those in power are terrified of the movement from below that is being built across this state – which is part of a growing global resistance.
They are scared of working class people, youth, people of color, women, LGBTQ, and all people moving forward together. They want nothing more than to break the solidarity that has been built through our struggles. But we won’t let them. Solidarity Forever! Onwards!
Stop the criminalization of the right to protest!
Drop the charges against Saladin Muhammad and all Moral Monday arrestees!
Build the Moral Monday movement and fight back against Tea Party legislature!
All Power to the People!