Municipal spending grows as 'Moral Monday' protests continue - WSPA.com

Municipal spending grows as 'Moral Monday' protests continue

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The seventh Moral Monday resulted in 84 arrests. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN) The seventh Moral Monday resulted in 84 arrests. (Jeff Reeves, WNCN)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

As the weekly "Moral Monday" protests continue and continue to grow, municipal spending for the City of Raleigh, Wake County and the state also continues to rise.

With a sweeping abortion bill in the hands of the Senate, women's rights are taking the spotlight at this week's Moral Monday protest, the 11th such demonstration.

Since the protests began in April, more than 700 people have been arrested at the Legislative Building as a form of civil disobedience. But the demonstrations, and subsequently the arrests, do not come without a price.

So far, state Capitol Police has spent $22,000 covering the protests. That is in addition to $43,000 by the Wake County Sheriff's Office and $69,000 by the Raleigh Police.

The $134,000 grand total does not include the money spent by the General Assembly Police.

"Any cost associated with these protests is too much," said Nate Pencook, chairman of the N.C. Federation of College Republicans. "People are voluntarily getting arrested to make headlines.

"It's ironic -- they're protesting these funding cuts, but then at the same time deliberately costing taxpayers."

Spending $69,000, the City of Raleigh is picking up most of the tab for Moral Mondays. That includes officers working in three capacities: regular, on-duty status; overtime status; and compensatory time status.

"As always, we strive to use the most economical resources, but must also ensure that we have the correct personnel on hand to meet the particular needs of a given situation," said Raleigh Police Department spokesman Jim Sughrue.

Much of the cost has fallen on RPD because, in 2011, state lawmakers cut down on Capitol Police funding. Raleigh Mayor Nancy MacFarlane said the added cost comes with being a police force in the capital city.

 "That was sort of an unfunded mandate for us that meant that Raleigh Police were going to have to take that on," MacFarlane said. "This is a Capitol City -- we have protests, the General Assembly here. We know that we are going to have issues like that from time to time, and that is part of the deal of being the capital city."

MacFarlane said she wishes lawmakers would have considered the impact to municipalities and include mayors in the discussion before making a decision to cut Capitol Police funding.

"I think that's one thing we've consistently said, we just want to be part of the conversation," MacFarlane said. "As mayor here, or all of the mayors, we just want to be part of the conversation when the state is making decisions that affect the municipalities."

With the NAACP already planning protests through August, costs for the city, county and state are expected to rise with each passing week.

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