William Barber, Claude Pope engage in war of words on eve of Moral March on Raleigh


State GOP Chairman Claude Pope called Saturday's march a "political rally, and accused North Carolina NAACP President William Barber of using "inflammatory and offensive" rhetoric.

Hanging in the balance are criticisms from the GOP that the leader of the Moral Monday movement is the de facto leader of the state's Democratic Party. Barber didn't waste any time addressing that issue.

"It's confusing to my good friend brother, Mr. Claude Pope," said Barber.

Barber pulled no punches from the podium after a verbal lashing from Pope.

"Rev. Barber should really be protesting outside the Democratic Party headquarters," said Pope. 

"What they want to do is get us tied up in deflection and denial, rather than debate," said Barber.

Pope's comments came hours before Friday evening's service at Abundant Life Christian Center in Raleigh. It was a spiritual pep rally for this year's "Historic Thousands on Jones Street" (HKonJ) march outside the State Capitol.

If people at the service look familiar, it is because they marched in previous protests. 

Last summer, police arrested almost 1,000 people who demonstrated against Republican policies they say have crippled workers, education, healthcare and voting rights statewide.

"That's what we're challenging -- extremism," said Barber.

"Don't get mad at Republicans because your Democratic friends screwed up," said Pope.

Pope says Barber's message and movement is inflammatory, offensive, and aimed at the wrong party. Barber says he's held all leaders accountable. 

"It's not about a party," said Barber. "It's about principle."

Barber says the HKonJ marches date back seven years to when Democrats controlled the state.

Marchers will gather at 9:30 a.m. at Shaw University and will begin the march down Fayetteville Street at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

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