32 arrested at North Carolina General Assembly during NAACP protest

Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Protesters rally at the General Assembly
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Protesters rallied again Tuesday evening outside the NC legislative building.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Thirty-two people were arrested at the North Carolina General Assembly on Tuesday as NAACP North Carolina and health care advocates held a 'sit-in' to protest "denial of Medicaid expansion."

North Carolina NAACP President William Barber, 53, was one of the people arrested after they went into lawmaker's offices.

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Barber was back Tuesday evening for another rally as protesters again assembled outside the now-closed-for-the-day North Carolina State Legislative Building.

The group is upset that a proposed state budget does not include funding to close what's called the Medicaid gap.

That included people who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but don't make enough to get Obamacare.

The coming Republican budget proposals do not close that gap.

In a statement released before the demonstration, Barber said that a universal health care system is a necessity and that health care should be viewed as a human right.

"If you do not consider the poor up front in your policies, according to our Constitution, you are uncivilized and un-Christian," Barber said Wednesday, attacking Republicans' denial of Medicaid expansion and push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The rally on that issue continued into the evening.

Credit: Wake County Sheriff's Office

Republicans have argued Medicaid expansion is too expensive, saying it would be better to invest in the economy because if more people have jobs then more people have health care.

"What we should be fighting over is how to get everyone on universal health care," said Barber before he was arrested. "Actually, we shouldn't be fighting. What we should be working together on is getting everybody universal health care."

Barber was charged with second-degree criminal trespassing.

"We never come to get arrested," Barber told the media. "But what we do come to do is exercise our constitutional right."

Earlier this month, Barber announced that he is stepping down after 12 years as the NAACP state leader

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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