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Small but vocal, protest sends message in Raleigh

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A small but vocal crowd protested in Raleigh on Monday.

The small group gathered outside the federal building around noon for a sing-along, hoping U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis might hear from his office inside. A handful of organizers trotted a letter of protest up to his office. He wasn't there.

But the group of protesters -- some veterans at the agitation game, others new to it -- happily sang on, led in part by the vocal stylings of the acapella protest-group The Ragin' Grannies.

"It's really about building community and keeping at it," said Ragin' Grannie signer Ann Ringland. "It's not just what happened this weekend," she said, referring to the myriad Women's March protests worldwide over the weekend, "it's every day. We can't let it fade over time."

And to that effect, Monday's small protest proved a success.

"I felt really motivated by this election," said Durham resident Pat Massard. She organized Monday's event after she got an email from a local advocacy group asking for volunteers to lead future rallies.

"I'm a shy person, so it's not natural for me to get up and be on TV for example, but I just felt I needed to step up," Massard said. "I've been involved with animal welfare, like puppies and kittens and stuff like that. I'm doing humans now."

Massard said she set up the rally outside Tillis' office to send a message. "He needs to know that there are people out there like me, and that we're watching how he votes."

Liz Kazal, with the environmental group Friends of the Earth, helped Massard spearhead the rally.

"We wanted to show congressmen like Sen. Thom Tillis that on Trump's first working day that we plan to hold him just as accountable for his policies as we're going to hold President Trump. The more people we can bring into things like marches will translate into small, distributive actions like you saw today to really put pressure on congressional representatives and let them know that citizens are active now and active participants in this Democracy."

Kazal says Massard is a posterchild for what North Carolina progressives are looking to recruit: new leaders to help get more people engaged.

"I think that Pat is representative of hundreds of thousands of people all across the country that are for the first time feeling motivated and feeling responsible for learning how to organize events and lobby their elected officials," Kazal said. "I think North Carolina is actually a pretty good example of what can happen when there are a majority of people around the state or around the country who are feeling this level of angst and how to channel that into actual change.

"We saw a lot of really hard battles over the last year in North Carolina with the passage of House Bill 2. But we also stopped what I would say were some of the worst attacks on our environment over the last four years as well," she added. "So I think the more we can draw from movements like the Moral Movement here in North Carolina and translate that all across the country, it gives us a blueprint for how to start standing up to a Trump presidency."

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