(Charlie Wilson and his wife, Anne, have fought for social justice for years, sometimes with a compassionate touch and other times with a claw hammer. They constantly have championed the rights of others, especially when the rights of the disenfranchised have been threatened. Their arrests in Raleigh recently for a nonviolent protest of events in the state legislature provided an exclamation point to their lives and a cry for others to step forward. This post is from Charlie’s Facebook page and is reprinted with his permission.)
The following is my first post in several weeks, because I had little of importance to report. Such is the life of an introvert. My last two days may be of interest to some, so I am going to write a summary of my experience participating in Moral Mondays on June 10. The purpose of this posting is to be of encouragement to any person who may be thinking of joining in the revelry of Moral Mondays.
Before I get into my personal assessment, I would be remiss if I did not thank all the people who offered such gracious responses to my having been arrested. Of course the majority have responded to the photo of Anne that appeared in several newspapers throughout the state. I admit the photo was great and suppose it provides her 15 minutes of fame.
First, Anne and I agreed to be arrested without much thought, because we both agreed the opportunity was not at all threatening, and it was not. Based on past experiences, I assumed that since the event was essentially planned and promoted by the NAACP it would be well orchestrated. My assumption was correct. I also believed that anything with The Reverend Doctor Barber’s name on it was beyond reproach. That assumption was also true. So there was little or no anxiety in our initial decision to be arrested.
The time frame is important as a context. We were arrested around 6:00 PM and released about 12:00 midnight. On June 3, the last release was at about 5:00 AM. To be fair to all aspects, I will first mention the only negative parts of the adventure. When we were arrested our hands were bound by plastic restraints. We wore these restraints for three hours. The restricted movement proved to be troublesome. Another negative was the fact that Anne and I were among the last three to be released. Some how our paper work was misplaced. Even that mishap was humorous. These negatives were not really a problem, just an inconvenience.
The positives far outbalanced the negative aspects. As mentioned above, the NAACP did an excellent job planning and executing the event. There was an initial meeting for all persons committed to being arrested. The instructions were clear and relieved any latent anxiety I harbored. We were assured there would be support throughout the arrest, and those promises were fulfilled from beginning to the end.
As instructed, those of us who had agreed to be arrested marched from the large rally on the mall to the legislature building, two by two, through the cheering crowd. We ended our short march in the rotunda, singing freedom songs, listening to short inspirational speeches, and participating in various prayers. At the appointed hour the person in charge announced via a bullhorn that the hall must be cleared in 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, all persons remaining would be arrested. That seemed to be a fair warning. So at 6:00PM, each person was told she/he was under arrest and all hands were secured. We had personal escorts to the elevators to the cafeteria were we were searched, surrendered all our worldly possessions (except clothing) and had our pictures taken for their archives. We then had a long wait with hands secured while we waited to be loaded on the prison bus. When we arrived at the detention facility, we were relieved of our hand restraints and placed in holding cells. By the time we were placed in holding cells it was 9:00PM. The processing was an educational experience.
In all this movement from here to there, every police officer I met was cordial and helpful. Most of the personnel were rather humorless though, but of course they were on duty. Slowly and with all deliberation we were called before the magistrate. We were given a court date, and orders not to even think about setting foot on the capitol grounds and buildings, until after our trials.
We were released at about 12:00 midnight. After our release we were greeted outside the detention facility by a wonderful crowd of cheering supporters. Among the group were Earline Parmon and Evelyn Terry.
We signed documents that gave the volunteer NAACP attorneys permission to represent us at our trial. There was support up to the last. We were even given a ride back to our vehicle. If persons having read all this still have questions or concerns, I will be glad to speak to them to add clarity or reassurance.
The cause is certainly worth a long day of your life and an additional day for recovery.
Justice is compassion raised to an institutional level.