End Immoral Attacks on Democracy & Deadly Policy Violence

Our elected representatives have refused to use their power to alleviate poverty.

Bishop William J. Barber II
Bishop William J. Barber II
By Bishop William J. Barber II –

Bishop Barber, Repairers of the Breach, NC Poor People’s Campaign, Impacted People, Faith Leaders issue ‘Cease and Desist’ letter demanding the North Carolina General Assembly halt attacks on state’s poor.

Bishop William J. Barber II, Repairers of the Breach, the North Carolina Poor People’s Campaign, impacted people, interfaith clergy members and advocates published an open letter demanding the North Carolina General Assembly “cease and desist” from its extensive agenda of policy murder and instead focus on passing laws that lift North Carolina’s 4.2 million poor and low-wealth people out of poverty.

Issued on the heels of the Voting Rights Act’s 58th anniversary, the public letter is addressed to N.C. General Assembly Leadership and denounces their efforts to pass “monster voter suppression bills” to further entrench their own power, along with efforts to transfer wealth from poor North Carolinians to the 1% and major corporations.

Bishop Barber, Repairers of the Breach, NC Poor People’s Campaign, and a delegation of impacted people and moral leaders from across the state are meeting with NC General Assembly leadership on both sides of the aisle and plan to deliver the cease-and-desist letter on Monday, August 14 to further shed light on the NC General Assembly’s hurtful policy agenda and to demand state legislators uplift rather than harm poor North Carolinians.

The letter reads:

In honor of all those who have given their lives to secure and protect the sacred right to vote, we are delivering a moral indictment of your cynical priorities and immoral policies. Instead of addressing the crises of poverty and low wages, lack of healthcare, underfunded public education, voter suppression, and environmental collapse you have chosen to use ‘culture wars’ that engender hate to camouflage and distract from your true agenda.

Your deceptive and deadly attacks aimed against Black and civil rights history, women, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants, students, teachers, and every day North Carolinians, while ensuring more access to guns promotes a devastating agenda that hurts all of us.

The people of North Carolina are suffering:

  • Over 40% of the state are poor or low-income: over 4 million residents.
  • Over 1 million North Carolinians still lack health insurance.
  • Nearly 2 million North Carolinians earn less than a minimum living wage of $15/hour, 37% of the workforce.
  • Average household debt rose 6% in 2022 to an average of $56,590 in North Carolina.

Your actions have made North Carolina into a State in Emergency at a time when we should be leading the nation in abolishing poverty and expanding the breadth and wealth of our democracy. The new fiscal year started five weeks ago, and you are still unable to provide any raises for teachers and public employees.

Thousands of North Carolinians continue to go without healthcare coverage, which you have denied for over ten years. At the same time, you’ve engaged in failed and flawed trickle-down economics in the state, giving millions in dollars to the wealthy and corporations.

Your most recent plans for tax cuts give the wealthiest North Carolinians tens of thousands of dollars in hand-outs while giving the poorest 20% of North Carolinians an insulting average of $27 in relief. And instead of following the courts’ mandate to fully fund public education based on our State’s constitution and the Leandro decision, you are now poised to spend hundreds of millions on private school vouchers, subsidizing millionaires to send their kids to private, discriminatory schools and resegregating our schools even further.

Rather than making the wealthy and corporations pay their fair share, you are now considering casinos to fill in the gaps of your self-induced lack of public funds. You need to stop with the gimmicks.

Because the NC General Assembly has repeatedly been found guilty of intentional racial voter suppression, because in 2020 almost half of all eligible North Carolina voters were poor and low-income, but a much smaller percentage of poor and low-income people have been able to vote in recent years, and because of North Carolina’s long history of excluding eligible voters from access to the ballot, we demand that the North Carolina General Assembly, immediately:

  • Protect and expand voting rights.
  • End the use of racial and partisan gerrymanders.
  • Urge North Carolina congressional representatives to restore the key protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 now.
  • Affirm and fully restore the right to vote for the currently and formerly incarcerated in this state.
  • Stop the undemocratic overreach of the court systems and leave the balance of powers in place.

Because 2 million people in North Carolina make less than $15/hr (50% of our workforce), there are over 9,000 homeless people living in North Carolina, and the minimum wage is $7.25, whereas a living wage in North Carolina in 2019 was $24.80, we demand that the North Carolina General Assembly:

  • Provide living wages and economic security for all workers.
  • Protect the right to form and join a union.
  • Stop diverting our public resources to the wealthy and profitable corporations and shareholders largely located out of state.
  • Stop the undemocratic, lobbyist-driven budget process we’ve seen so far.

Because firearms are a leading cause of death for children and teens in North Carolina and the lack of common sense rules on access to guns results in hundreds of unnecessary deaths each year, we demand that the North Carolina General Assembly:

  • Ban semiautomatic assault weapons, armor-piercing ammunition, high-capacity magazines and other “weapons of war.”
  • Require universal background checks for every firearm sale and pass a Universal Background Check law that closes the gun-show loophole.
  • Create a commission that includes clergy from all faiths, people directly impacted by gun violence and their advocates, to work on common-sense gun control regulations.
  • Immediately reverse course on the irresponsible and dangerous repeal of the pistol permit law.

Because North Carolina has refused and resisted the expansion of Medicaid until this year, and there are at least 1 million North Carolinians who are uninsured, we demand that the North Carolina General Assembly:

  • Immediately adopt and implement universal quality healthcare.
  • Expand Medicaid with no strings attached.

Because vulnerable communities in North Carolina are at risk from multiple extremist attacks targeting our humanity, our right to bodily integrity, and our right to live, we demand that the North Carolina General Assembly:

  • Protect reproductive justice and the right to bodily autonomy.
  • Reject all proposals to deny the humanity of transgender youth and adults and protect equal protection under the law for LGBTQ communities.
  • Protect immigrant communities and recognize our role in this society.
  • Reject any attempt to force local sheriffs to become extensions of ICE and further terrorize immigrant communities.
  • Immediately enact second-chance criminal justice reforms that end the policy of mass incarceration, the discriminatory criminalization of race and poverty, and illegal law enforcement abuses that disproportionately impact Black people.
  • Fully fund public education and protect the right to teach accurate history.
  • Prioritize environmental justice now over the policies of ecological devastation.

At a time when poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in this nation, North Carolinians will sign the cease-and-desist letter denouncing the General Assembly for continuing to push death-dealing public policies that directly harm poor and low-wealth people, who make up more than 40% of the state’s population.

You can sign the letter at www.breachrepairers.org/sign-ncga-cease-desist.