As William Barber’s associates continue to protest every Monday at the General Assembly, it’s interesting to take note of how various public safety officials have responded.
Colin Willoughby – District Attorney for Wake County. As DA, Willoughby is the chief prosecutor in the County. It is his responsibility to get arrested protesters through the criminal justice system after they are arrested. But Willoughby seems reluctant to do his job. Last month, he told Civitas that he was weighing issuing citations (similar to traffic tickets) to protesters instead of arresting them. More recently, he told WRAL that he had not yet decided what to do with Moral Monday arrestees, claiming weakly that he needed video evidence to decide. Mr. Willoughby did not return multiple calls from the Civitas Institute seeking comment.
Sam Pennica – Director of the City-County Bureau of Identification. CCBI is the agency tasked with identifying and processing anyone arrested in Wake County. At Pennica’s direction, the CCBI washed its hands of involvement in Moral Mondays, refusing to fingerprint or photograph detained protesters, ignoring the agency’s own policy. This, Pennica told Civitas, was due to the financial strain incurred by the agency: “I gotta look at what’s in the best interest of this organization from a fiscal standpoint. And here we are near the end of the fiscal year and I don’t want to run out of money. In fact, I’ll be very close.”
This, if true, would be a reasonable explanation. But in public records obtained by Civitas, we learned that the CCBI has spent only $1,292 in overtime. For a government agency with a $5 million annual budget, Pennica’s claim strains all credibility.
In contrast with some of these public safety officials, the General Assembly police has only sixteen officers, but have been scrupulously involved in every step of the arrest process. General Assembly police officers – all the while calm and courteous – arrest protesters, and then accompany them to the Wake County Detention Center. Once there, they assist the Wake County Sheriff’s Office with processing the arrestees.
A final note: Civitas discovered an apparent irony with regard to law enforcement operations at the General Assembly. The Raleigh Police Department has been assisting the General Assembly police with crowd control. Given the relatively small size of the General Assembly police department, the Raleigh Police Department actually provides most of the manpower at each protest.
According to the organizers (HKonJ) of Moral Monday, Teamsters Local 391 is a “coalition partner” of the weekly protests. One of the members of Teamsters Local 391 happens to be the Raleigh Police Protective Association, a police union that comprises “over 600 active Raleigh Police members.” So it would appear that the leaders of the police union are encouraging and organizing the very people that the members of the union later have to arrest. Do police officers know how much needless extra work their union is causing them?