Lawmakers return to Raleigh and an unforgettable protest

Citizens sound off at Pots & Spoons Protest

State lawmakers returned to town May 16 to find about hundred and fifty disappointed but determined North Carolinians here to greet them with a clamorous protest they are not likely to soon forget.

Click here to see pictures from the Pots & Spoons Protest.

Fed up with actions taken by the General Assembly to enrich and empower the few at the expense of the rest, people from different walks of life – young and old, working and unemployed, gay and straight – united on Bicentennial Mall for a cacerolazo – a Pots & Spoons Protest – the first-of-its-kind protest of our out-of-control state legislature.

To kick off the protest, the Triangle singing group Raging Grannies sang a song written just for the cacerolazo set to the tune of “Battle Hymn of the Republic”:

“We’re the Raging Grannies and we’ve come out here to say
That the people will be heard and so we’re making noise today!
We’re worried ‘bout the future ‘cause we’re goin’ the wrong way,
Wake up and hear us now!”

Click here to watch the Raging Grannies perform at the Pots & Spoons Protest.

Then, each armed with only a pot, a spoon, and a determination not to be ignored, about one hundred and fifty protesters stood across the street from the People’s House – their house – and banged on empty pots and pans they brought from home non-stop for a full 15 minutes.

Click here to see and hear the sights and sounds from the Pots & Spoons Protest.

People inspired by the popular form of protest which originated in Latin America have come together in cacerolazos from Chile and Argentina to Iceland,Ireland,Greece, and even Syria, to challenge power and affect change.

On Wednesday, protesters in Raleigh brought the spirit of the cacerolazo home, where an out-of-control state legislature has busied itself since the 2010 election by catering to corporate interests and right-wing ideologues, gutting funding for public education, endangering women’s health care, putting the rights of unmarried couples up for popular vote, and attempting to lock some groups of voters out of the political process all together.

Indeed, the Pots & Spoons Protest could hardly have come at a more critical time for North Carolina.  While lobbyists for CEOs and the right-wing “crazy train” – some of them literally in bed with the staff of legislative leaders – lined up to be heard inside the legislative building, protesters outside sought to remind politicians on Jones Street to whom they are really supposed to listen.

“As long as this legislature does the bidding of the 1%, our people and our democracy will suffer,” said MaryBe McMillan, Secretary-Treasurer of the NC State AFL-CIO in a call-to-action after the protest.  “We the People will not rest, we will not go away, and we will not be quiet while our rights are under attack and our government is for sale to the highest bidder.”

Click here to watch MaryBe McMillan deliver a powerful call-to-action.

With no apparent sense of irony, Americans for Prosperity North Carolina showed up with a slick, billboard-truck and attempted to hand out earplugs to legislators and passersby.  The symbolism of lobbyists giving away earplugs paid for by Art Pope, the Koch brothers, and the 1% so lawmakers could continue to ignore the voices of their constituents only underlined the need for a Pots & Spoons Protest in the first place.

“Today we made it clear,” MaryBe told the crowd, “that Art Pope, the Koch Brothers, and the 1% can buy all earplugs they want, but they cannot silence democracy.”

Too many legislators have turned a deaf ear to the concerns of their citizens.  The cacerolazo held in Raleigh today is evidence that people will raise a ruckus as loud as need be to call for the attention of the men and women elected to serve the people – all the people – of North Carolina.

People at the Pots & Spoons Protest sounded off for equality, for funding public education, for protecting workers rights, and against voter I.D.  They sounded off for a forward-moving North Carolina and against the forces of greed and rigid ideology who would take they state they love backward.

Despite election results one week ago which disappointed hundreds of thousands of North Carolina voters, the folks who came to Raleigh today made it clear they will not let their out-of-control legislature off the hook.  By coming together in a big, fun, new way, these North Carolinians made May 16, 2012 a day to remember in the ongoing struggle for economic and social justice in our state.

Pots & Spoons press clips

[FAVORITE] ‘Pots & Spoons’ protest loudly greet returning NC lawmakers (video), The Progressive Pulse

[FAVORITE] Vocal protesters greet returning state lawmakers, WRAL (CBS)

[FAVORITE] Video: Loud pots and pans protests greets lawmakers, News & Observer

Pots and spoons protest targets General Assembly policies, News 14 Carolina

NC Legislature returns to work, met by protesters, ABC11

Budget To Dominate Busy Short Session, WUNC (NPR)

Legislature returns to work, met by protesters, AP 


‘Pots and spoons’ protestors expected to greet NC lawmakers, NBC17

Pots and Spoons Protest – NC General Assembly today, The Progressive Pulse

N.C. Senate panels vote to reverse Gates Four annexation, bar Fayetteville from trying again for 12 years, Fayetteville Observer

Opponents make noise, literally, against state GOP policies, NCNN

Working Families Bring Pots and Spoons Brigade to N.C. Lawmakers, AFL-CIO Now

Additional coverage updated May 24, 2012

Pots and spoons give voice to the 99 percent, Technician (NCSU)

Short legislative session kicks off with a bang, Triangle Tribune

Legislative short session kicks off, The Charlotte Post


Video and photos

Several people who were at the Pots & Spoons Protest captured photos and video of the program. Here are some links:

NC: Join the Pots and Spoons Protest #May16NC by AFLCIONC

Pots & Spoons protest greets returning NC legislators by TheProgressivePulse

NC: Sights and sounds from the Pots and Spoons Protest #May16NC cacerolazo by AFLCIONC

NC: MaryBe McMillan says forces of greed cannot silence democracy #May16NC by AFLCIONC

[GOOD] NC: Raging Grannies perform at Pots and Spoons Protest #May16NC by AFLCIONC

[BETTER] Raging Grannies sing to “welcome” NC Legislature into session

NC AFL-CIO Sec./ Treasurer at NC Pots & Spoons Protest by AjamuD

Pots and Spoon Protest by AjamuD

Pots and Spoons Protest – NC General Assembly by NCHealthAccess

Pots & Spoons Rally by ProgressNC

May 16 Protest Raleigh by rositaage (reporter w/News & Observer)

[OFFICIAL] Pots & Spoons Protest #May16NC photos

Pots and Spoons Protest at NC Legislature photos by Ajamu Dillahunt

Pots & Spoons Protest photos by Raleigh-Wake MoveOn Council