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3 min Read
Published June 9, 2013

Moral Monday Citizen Weighs In On What It’s Like To Wear Chains For a Cause

If you live in North Carolina, chances are you’ve been reading all about the Moral Monday protests taking place at our Legislature Building. These non-violent activists are falling on the proverbial sword and walking off in handcuffs, all for the sake of North Carolinians everywhere. Why?

So voter voices won’t be squelched. So we retain our natural heritage. Because young children in poverty are being denied safe after-school activities. And well–maybe it’s just better you hear about it from one of the brave souls who went out there this past Monday, just to stand up for morality. I asked Arleigh Birchler why he got involved and what his arresting experience was like. Here’s the insider’s perspective:

“Why am I willing to be arrested for Moral Mondays? My main concern is Carolina’s Natural Heritage. Also, I’m concerned about voter suppression. Proposed laws would squander our descendants’ share of the rich natural heritage of this state, simply for a short-term profit. It is immoral.

Arleigh, right before his arrest on Moral Monday.
Arleigh, right before his arrest on Moral Monday.

I have been concerned about what is going on in our nation and globally since the Bush policies crashed the economy in 2008. However, up until now, I’ve mostly only written my opinions for people to read, rather than taking major action.

I lived in Wisconsin before moving to North Carolina, so I had been closely watching my home state, but when the new legislature began to take shape here, I started paying more attention to North Carolina.

I have read a lot about Rev Barber over the years, and followed the Wake School Board developments. I wanted to hear him speak. When I first heard about the Moral Monday protests I knew I wanted to take part. I live on my Social Security Retirement and live in Chapel Hill. My car is no longer reliable, and I’d been trying to figure out how to get to Raleigh for the protests.

When Mega Moral Monday was announced, I decided to start asking about transportation. A number of car pools were being formed in my area, so I contacted some people and made arrangements to get to Raleigh. I was unable to get there early enough for the “Arrestee Training Meeting,” but I was arrested before in 1972 in Florida, under similar circumstances. I knew what to expect.

When Rev Barber started to assemble people to march to the Legislature building, I went ahead of them to the bridge and waited.

When the last of the folks who were going in to be arrested passed me, I fell in behind them. I followed them into the Legislature building–stayed with them for the speeches, praying, and singing. Then, I got in line to be arrested.

All of the officials were very professional and courteous. One of the men sitting beside near me was the father-in-law of one of the arresting officers. They visited quite a bit as we waited, and everyone joked and talked with each other. It was easy to talk and enjoy the company of both the arresting officers and the officers at the County Jail. ”

How was your Monday?
How was your Monday?

In the relaxed atmosphere, amidst the songs and speeches, the officers did their jobs and Arleigh and his friends did theirs. With each group respectful and dignified, but working hard to protect and improve life for North Carolinians everywhere, it’s almost not difficult to imagine a brighter and freer future for our communities. Keep doing us proud, everyone. This little blog is sending out its biggest thanks — to all the people who go that extra mile and sacrifice for the sake of their morality.

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  • heather


  • I sincerely believe that through the power of storytelling, I can make social issues become more than a set of statistics. My expertise is in community leadership, non-profit work, event coordinating, networking, and storytelling. All my articles.

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