State Lawmakers’ Return to Raleigh Marked by an Unforgettable Protest

NC State AFL-CIO, PO Box 10805, Raleigh, NC 27605


Contact: Jeremy Sprinkle, Communications Director, 919-833-6678,;


Citizens sound off at the first-ever Pots & Spoons Protest of an out-of-control General Assembly

Raleigh, N.C. – State lawmakers returned to town today 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.

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!”

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.

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.

Today, 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.”

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.