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NAACP Announces Lawsuit Against North Carolina Coup

William Barber announces that the North Carolina NAACP will see the Republican Legislature in court.
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It took all of zero seconds for the decision to be made, bet.

On this morning's AM Joy, Reverend William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP, announced that his group plans to sue (likely in Federal Court because that's how you deal with the well-known garage band Jim Crow and the Confederacy) over this week's Republican legislature coup.

Barber didn't mince words connecting this week's power grab with the segregationist impulse that has defined southern Republican politics since 1964.

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[VIDEO] PROTESTOR: I can defend my country. But somebody that tell us we can't exercise our constitutional rights. So when I knock on this door today, I knock on this door for freedom! I knock on this door for democracy! I knock ON this door for North Carolina!

JOY ANN REID: Welcome back to AM Joy. Dozens of protesters, including the veteran you just saw, were arrested on Friday in the North Carolina General Assembly where hundreds gathered to oppose what they're calling a power grab by GOP lawmakers. In an extraordinary move, outgoing Republican Governor Pat McCrory, signed a bill stripping the incoming Democratic Governor of some key powers. The bill substantially limits Governor-elect Roy Cooper's authority to make appointments to the Election boards, to reduce Democrats' power over election boards which determine things like how many voting sites each precinct will get. The state's Republican-controlled General Assembly took advantage of an impromptu special session that was supposed to be about disaster relief, after spending weeks contesting Cooper's narrow victory. McCrory finally conceded on December 5th, but with the backing of state Republicans is fighting to ensure that if he can't run North Carolina, neither will his successor. Joining me now from Raleigh is William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP, and founder of the Moral Mondays movement. Thank you so much for being here.

REV WILLIAM BARBER: Thank you so much, it's been a long night. Nearly 100 people have actually gotten arrested. That young man was one of them. He was a former warrior in Afghanistan. And we were locked out of the gallery. People simply wanted to go in and watch. In a form of almost fascism they didn't want to let people speak up and we literally knocked on the doors to get in and they arrested people for doing that.

REID: As we know, as of 11:30 last night, 45 protesters had been released and we'll just await an update the status of people arrested. I want to play for you, Reverend, Representative Nelson Dollar. He is a Republican State Representative who was defending the passage of these bills, stripping the incoming governor of his powers. Let's take a listen.

[VIDEO] REP NELSON DOLLAR (R): This is majority rule. We have elections. Elections have consequences. Elections provided us a new governor. But those same elections, that same electorate, provided super majorities the same as in this current session.

REID: You can hear protesters chanting in the background. How do you respond to that, Reverend Barber?

BARBER: It sounds a lot like segregationist talk when they used to have -- said they had the majority. But a majority does not give you the right to run roughshod over the constitution. This -- these Republican extremists have a special kind of low and a thirst for power to lie the way they do.

So let me clear up the record.

First of all, this legislature is unconstitutionally constituted. The courts have ruled, they only have a super majority because of racist gerrymander in which now the courts have demanded have to be redrawn and we have to have a special election next year.

Number two, 13 times this legislature has passed unconstitutional laws that the courts have overturned. That's why we are in the moral movement to fight them, because they have a propensity to do this.

Next, this was a harrat session, not a special session, for hurricane victims, about power grabbing. It was done in secret. There was no inside. There were all white people in the secret meetings that planned this. They claimed Cooper only won by 10,000 votes but they do not talk about the 158 sites they denied in early voting versus what we had in 2014. And this is unprecedented. Democrats have never done this, even though they lie and say they have.

We are planning to sue. I want to announce that on your program. Because we believe these are violations of the Voting Rights Act, as well as the Equal Protection Clause. Because millions of voters voted for Cooper. Millions of African-Americans. And by stripping power, they are diluting the influence of African-Americans. And this is just -- I mean, it's almost -- how to respond to these kinds of distortions, they are really mad, because Cooper won and also an African-American, Mike Morgan won the Supreme Court by over 350,000 votes. And 76 counties. That's what's going on here.

REID: And one of the reaches -- they have ridiculed Roy Cooper, said he doesn't show up much to court. That's because Roy Cooper has refused to defend things like the SB2 law that both regulated who goes to the bathroom where and also stopped cities from raising the minimum wage. I want to play a little bit of governor-elect Cooper talking about this power grab on Thursday. Listen.

[VIDEO] GOVERNOR-ELECT ROY COOPER (D) Most people might think this is a partisan power grab. But it is really more ominous. If I believe that laws pass by the legislature hurt working families and are unconstitutional, they will see me in court.

REID: And Reverend Barber, you have said the NAACP plans to go to court. It sounds like Cooper is going to go to court. Give us how that is going to play out. Are these going to be one joined lawsuit or do you expect multiple suits to wind up in court? One of the laws they passed makes it a more circuitous route to get a lawsuit to the state Supreme Court.

BARBER: Yeah. And that's going to probably be challenged, as well. It's going to probably be multiple suits, because you know, we're nonpartisan in the NAACP. But the reality is, you know, they -- sayings, as you said, about Dallas Woodhouse in saying that he has been constantly -- his own brother calls him a racist. I seldom respond to him. We have to fight this.

This is just as bad as those racist voter suppression laws and we beat them on those. We beat them on redistricting. That's what I want people to know. And I want people to understand that after all their tricks and suppression, they lost. And they see the handwriting on the wall. They know that next year when these lines are redrawn, many will not get re-elected. They can only get elected through racist gerrymandering. We have to fight it.

I'm sure the parties will fight. We have to wage this fight on behalf the people. Because what they have literally done, they have attempted to --

They're scared of the policies.

This is the same group, Joy, that would not allow living wages to be voted on, even though 79.6% of Carolinians want it to be voted on. This is the same group that kept 500,000 people from having Medicaid expansion: 346,000 white people, 30,000 veterans. This is the same group that has cut off from public education. And took 900,000 people's earned income tax credit so they could give 14 families a tax break. This group has no integrity when it comes to caring for the people. This was a secret coup. It's unconstitutional. It's immoral. And we plan to fight it with everything we have. We cannot let it stand.

REID: Reverend Barber, we appreciate all you are doing and we continue to follow you.

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