reflections on civil disobedience

From UUCA Member Rich McConnell, Arrested June 24, 2013

For thirty-five years I was a trial lawyer. In government, then in private practice and later in the corporate world.  In none of those positions did I demonstrate or speak out on politics or civil rights.  Before that I was a Marine officer to whom the right of free speech was not granted.  Now retired in Black Mountain the teachings of UUCA and my experiences in the Obama campaign and in Building Bridges of Asheville enabled me to travel to Raleigh for the June 24, 2013 Moral Monday demonstration and ultimate incarceration for approximately four and one half hours, three with my hands cuffed behind me. One hundred fourteen new friends were arrested with me that evening.

It was a respectful, bold, peaceful, fulfilling and educational experience.  I gained additional respect and admiration for the organizational skills, methods and heart of the NAACP and its volunteers and staff.  Those who elected to be arrested for declining to stop singing and chanting to the Legislature in “the peoples’ house” about the inhuman measures being enacted inside were cheered and thanked by thousands on the way in, on the way out, as we boarded Inmate Transportation Buses in the dark hours later, as we arrived at the County Correctional Facility for a second body search and more processing and faced a judge, after we were released late that evening and were driven in small groups by volunteers back to the church where the NAACP had given us our initial instructions.  As we entered the church volunteers, many of whom had been arrested in previous weeks, again greeted us with cheers and applause and treated us to a hot meal.

The current state legislature and Governor act as though they are against everything in which I believe:  they do not see all people as entitled to equal worth, they do not respect women or people of color, nor their right to vote without undue restriction.  Under their guidance our new state motto should be “North Carolina–Going As Fast As We Can in Reverse.”  They embarrass and scare me.  I am glad I went to Raleigh and proud that UUCA is supportive.

I hope to see many of you on Mountain Moral Monday in Asheville on Monday August 5th. The world is watching North Carolina.

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