The North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other groups gathered at First Baptist Church on South Wilmington Street in Raleigh Friday to address the criticism they have received following weeks-long protests and arrests.
Earlier this week, the conservative Civitas Institute launched a website that released personal information about protesters and supporters who have been arrested while taking part in the near-weekly demonstrations against the health and environmental policies of the Republican-controlled legislature.
The head of the state NAACP said it is a distraction from the real issue and only fuels their fight.
What started with 17 arrests and dozens of supporters in late April has grown to encompass a wider coalition of left-leaning demonstrators who are outraged over Republican policies ranging from social spending to education and voting rights. This past Monday's protest brought the arrest total to more than 450 as NAACP chapter president the Rev. William Barber called for mass rallies for the next two weeks.
Supporters varying in age and ethnicity held signs emphasizing that they were locals in response to comments from Gov. Pat McCrory and the state Republican Party chairman that protesters represent outside interests.
On Friday, some supporters walked to the capital to deliver a letter to the governor, asking him change the course of Republican policies that cut unemployment benefits, affect education and voting rights.
The group also announced that next Monday, they will focus their protest on women's rights - what they call economic justice - and worker's rights.
"On this coming Monday, the the North Carolina State AFL-CIO is making a major push to turn out our members because we believe it is critical that workers voices are heard," said Mary B. McMillan with NC AFL-CIO. "The list of injustices against workers is long, gutting protections in the state personnel act, endangering teacher tenure, denying dues deductions to municipal employees."
Meanwhile, the numbers from the Civitas website only tracks arrests before June 10, but organizers promise to continually update it as the movement continues.