14 arrests made in Raleigh as teachers protest

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Thursday, June 16, 2016
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Fourteen teachers were arrested in Raleigh.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Fourteen protesters were taken into custody after they chained themselves in the middle of Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh.

The protesters brought traffic to a standstill.

Raleigh and Capitol Police officers swarmed the intersection and reopened traffic just before 6 p.m. Wednesday evening.


The 14 people arrested were charged with impeding the flow of traffic and with resisting, delaying or obstructing law enforcement officers. The arrestees were taken to the Wake County Detention Center for processing.

"What a bizarre group of union activists, blocking traffic and getting arrested to apparently protest Governor McCrory on raising teacher pay more than any other state over the last three years," said NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse.

The demonstration outside of the Capitol came after a two-day march. About three dozen people walked more than 20 miles from downtown Durham to Raleigh.

The group was demanding a meeting with Gov. Pat McCrory. They think he should use money from the state surplus fund to make bigger investments in the classroom.

The NAACP joined the fight.

"When it comes to November, let's take them to school," said North Carolina NAACP President the Rev. William Barber.

Teachers says resources are scarce right now and children are suffering: even getting textbooks is a problem.

"We keep shorting them. We keep shorting positions that are essential to their success," said Durham teacher Anca Stefan.

The Governor's team says plenty of money is being poured into classrooms, and his budget includes $10 million for supplies and equipment. That number's up 20 percent from last year.

"We are doing a great job of educating our students and 57 percent of our general fund goes right into education in North Carolina, which is higher than the national average," said Senior Education Advisor Catherine Truitt.

The group was not able to speak with McCrory. His office told ABC11 the governor had a prior engagement.

Earlier, the Governor's Office had offered the group a meeting with the Governor's deputy chief of staff and his senior education adviser, which the group did not immediately accept.

The Governor's Office later clarified that after 5 p.m., when it learned the group would be interested in meeting with the governor's representatives after all, the deputy chief of staff and the senior education adviser went to the Capitol, but at that point, the group had already dispersed to Morgan Street and began the demonstrations that led to the arrests.

"We're incensed. I mean educators and parents, we have students with us who have gone 23 miles from Durham all the way to the Governor's Office. We just don't understand why the governor wouldn't want to hear about experiences that we have in our classroom that tell us our students need and deserve more," said Durham teacher Nicholas Garber-Grace. "He's the sitting governor of our state. He hasn't given a good reason not to meet with us. It's his responsibly to take care of the students in our state and make sure they get what they deserve."

"Twenty-five percent of NC children live in poverty - they need and deserve health care and fully funded schools," said Bryan Proffitt, chair of Organize 2020 and president of the Durham Association of Educators (DAE). "As educators and parents together, we understand the needs of our students better than anyone. Our students can't wait. They deserve more."

The Governor's office says the National Education Association shows North Carolina has the fastest increase in teacher pay since 2013.

"The fact is, no Governor or state has raised teacher pay more in the last three years than Governor McCrory and the state of North Carolina. As someone who has taken an oath to promote truth and justice, Roy Cooper should disavow any and all fringe organizations that seek to blatantly distort Governor McCrory's record," Woodhouse said.

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