Local NAACP leader among those arrested in Raleigh

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 10, 2013

RALEIGH — The local NAACP president was one of 30 arrested Monday during the civil rights organization’s most recent protest at the state legislature.
Scott Teamer, head of the local NAACP chapter, said he joined supporters in the “civil disobedience” in response to legislation coming out of Raleigh. Teamer said some bills have been aimed to suppress minorities and those of low socioeconomic status.
“It’s never fun going to jail. but we’re reaching a point where somebody has to bring attention to the avalanche of bills that’s being passed and trying to be passed in the general assembly,” Teamer said in a phone interview Thursday.
Teamer’s arrest came a week after the Rev. William Barber, the leader of the North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, was arrested during a similar protest.
Barber said Thursday his group will continue its series of weekly protests at the capitol.
And Teamer could be there, he said.
After spending nine hours in a Wake County jail, Teamer said, a magistrate ordered him not to set foot on the state legislature grounds.
But he and others could stand on the other side of North Salisbury Street as — what the Rev. Barber calls “Moral Mondays” — continue.
Some of the reasons for protesting that Teamer cited Thursday were the N.C. Senate’s approval of repealing the Racial Justice Act, Gov. Pat McCrory’s denial of federal funding to programs like Medicaid and a bill proposed to penalize parents of college students who vote at their campuses.
With nearby Livingstone and Catawba colleges, Teamer said, student voting rights hits close to home.
“If that’s not a poll tax, I don’t know what is,” Teamer said. “If you go to college for four years, you are a resident of that community. You have a right to vote.”
On Thursday, Barber said he expects the weekly protests to extend into the foreseeable future.
“I don’t want to say how long because the fact is we don’t know how long they’re going to (continue the session), but people are asking us to continue as long as necessary because it shines a light,” Barber said. “The point is every Monday they open the session, and every week they announce new forms of extremism, so every Monday we will continue to rise up.”
Some NAACP members that have participated in the demonstrations have compared the Republican General Assembly and McCrory to the segregationist Gov. George Wallace and former President Richard Nixon, who adopted a so-called Southern strategy of winning political support by appealing to racist sentiment.
“That new party is alive and well in the Raleigh statehouse, and their serpent-like political agility is picking off every vulnerable person it can,” said Rev. T. Anthony Spearman, pastor at the Clinton Tabernacle AME Zion Church in Hickory and the third vice president of the NC NAACP.
Teamer said he was surrounded by college professors, doctors and other advocates of all ethnicities during the protest Monday.
“Jail wasn’t fun but the company was great,” he said.
Teamer, who also works as a bail bondsman, said it was an interesting experience on the other side of the cuffs.
But he stands by his decision.

“It felt really strange to be on the other side of those bars,” he said. “But I wasn’t ashamed. There’s no shame in civil disobedience. I’m hoping that other people will pick up the banner of justice and say enough’s enough.”

Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.