Barber, Spearman Warn Don't Trust Lawmakers on "Voter ID"

Troy Marrow


As the NC General Assembly reconvened in yet another special session Tuesday, two prominent North Carolina civil rights leaders warned not to trust any new laws establishing photo voter identification emanating from it, despite a constitutional amendment passed by voters recently mandating it.

“Don’t you compromise on our rights [Democrats],” warned Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of Repairers of the breach, and co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Revival, during a protest demonstration across the street from the Legislative Building on Jones Street in Raleigh Tuesday.

“Let them do it, only with extremist Republican votes. Because if you do [Democrats, Gov. Cooper] you become complicit in discrimination.”

Barber, like several other speakers there, called the NC General Assembly “unconstitutionally constituted” because the federal courts have ruled that they were previously elected by unconstitutionally racially gerrymandered voting districts.

“They cheated,” Barber summed up.

Dr. Barber indicated that voter photo ID, as “…extremists who call themselves Republican,” are intending to pass, “…has already proven to be unconstitutional in the courts” because it targets African-Americans for voter suppression “with surgical precision.”

Barber added that even though voters approved the voter ID amendment to the North Carolina Constitution, that means little if it contradicts the federal Constitution. The same elected officials who vote for voter ID in the South, are the same, Dr. Barber said, who vote against women, expanding health care, living wages, labor rights, public education, the LGBQ community, and immigrants.

“So voter ID isn’t just about Black people, but about America itself,” Dr. Barber maintained. “This is a fight about all of us, and when you touch Black people, you touch all of us. That means all of us must stand together!”

“We’ve fought and won before….we’ll fight and win again!”

Like other speakers on program, Rev. Barber also warned that lawmakers should be devoting most of the estimated two weeks this special session is expected to take towards helping flood victims still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Florence.

“We are drifting back towards Jim Crow, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the NCNAACP told the crowd, accusing the Republican-led NC General Assembly of “…intentionally disenfranchising voters of color to ensure political gain…” for white supremacists.

Spearman called it “…the height of fraud.”

“Every time the Berger-Moore all-white caucus comes up with a trick to disenfranchise our rights, we will use it to make North Carolina bulletproof against the voter suppression tricks of the white caucus, the NCNAACP leader vowed.

“We will not retreat! We MUST not retreat!,” Dr. Spearman exclaimed to cheers. “We WILL be heard! We MUST be heard!”

At press time Tuesday, neither chamber of the NC General Assembly had passed any voter ID legislation. Senate President pro-tem Phil Berger told reporters Monday that lawmakers would take their time with passage, seeking input from Democrats and citizens.

Tentatively, the Republican majority wants voter ID legislation that allows for college identification to be used, in addition to driver licenses and free ID cards issued by the state Dept. of Motor Vehicles.