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Protesters brave rain, rally on Capitol grounds

The Associated Press

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RALEIGH — Activists who have spent months protesting laws backed by the Republican governor and the state’s Republican-controlled legislature brought their grievances close to the governor’s office Monday after a judge granted them permission to hold their demonstrations on the grounds of the state Capitol.

It was the first rally demonstrators had held at the Capitol; in the nine months they have waged their “Moral Monday” marches, they usually protested in the mall behind the Legislative Building.

The NAACP went to court to change the location.

“Nobody wants to go back in some football field away from where the power is. The power is at the State Capitol,” NC NAACP spokesman Al McSurely said.

Past protests have resulted in the arrest of hundreds of demonstrators, who are trying to pressure Gov. Pat McCrory to convene a special session to modify or reverse policies that they say hurt recipients of Medicaid and unemployment benefits.

“We want to send a shock wave through this state,” state NAACP president the Rev. William Barber told the crowd he estimated at about 1,500 people. “If you thought we fought in 2013, you ought to see how we fight in an election year.”

Raleigh police couldn’t be reached for a crowd estimate Monday night.

In granting permission to allow the protest on the Capitol grounds, Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour questioned why the permit application asked what a group plans to do on the Capitol grounds, saying it suggests that the state’s decision would be based on what type of activity is planned.

Special Deputy Attorney General Don Teeter said officials only wanted to know if extra police or fire protection would be needed.

McCrory spokesman Rick Martinez issued a statement dismissing the protesters’ concerns.

“These are the same left-wing political groups that are wanting to keep the failed policies of the past that put people out of work,” Martinez said.

“Instead, Governor McCrory is working to strengthen the economy so more North Carolinians can earn a paycheck instead of hoping for a government check,” he said.