NAACP leader, 11 others guilty in Moral Monday protests

More than 900 Moral Monday protesters face charges of trespassing, failing to disperse, and violating building rules.
December 4, 2013 8:16:19 PM PST
A judge has found North Carolina NAACP President William Barber and 11 others guilty of second-degree trespassing and violating building rules while protesting in April at the state legislature.

Wake County District Court Judge Joy Hamilton issued her ruling Wednesday after a two-day trial during which defense lawyers argued that the protesters' actions were protected by both the U.S. and state constitutions.

The defense didn't present any evidence and called no witnesses, asking the judge to drop all charges. Instead, she tossed out only the failure to disperse charge.

The state argued the group wanted to engage in civil disobedience.

The dozen defendants in court this week were among the first of more than 930 people arrested as part of weekly protests during the 2013 legislative session. The protests were organized by the NAACP against the policies of the state's Republican governor and lawmakers.

Barber says his group is not backing down.

"We may be convicted for our convictions today, but our convictions stand," said Barber. "So what are we going to do? We're going to go back and continue to mobilize."

The group is continuing on with plans for a February moral march on Raleigh. It's supposed to be the biggest rally to date.

Hamilton sentenced the defendants to pay a $100 fine and court costs. The defense gave immediate notice of appeal for the two convictions.

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