By Brad Friedman on 2/10/2014, 3:50pm PT  

Oh, I'm sorry. Those weren't more than 80,000 'Tea Partiers' marching in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, over the weekend. Those were people peacefully demonstrating against the radical Rightwing 'Tea Party' policies of the North Carolina Legislature and Governor.

Had they been 'Tea Partiers' protesting, of course, you would have already heard about the march, as it likely would have been featured by every news outlet in the nation, along with the repeated claim that such a massive gathering of angry voters portends disaster for Democrats this November.

Such as these were not angry Rightwingers marching, however, the event barely made the "news" beyond North Carolina's borders. But it happened, whether the national, so-called "liberal media" covered it or not and, as these photos demonstrate, it was pretty damned huge...

Saturday's protest was described as the "Moral March on Raleigh". It was both the 8th annual rally of the "Historic Thousands on Jones Street" coalition, so named after the street that houses the NC legislature, and an offshoot of the widespread weekly Moral Monday protests that cropped up in Raleigh and elsewhere in North Carolina in 2013, as organized by the North Carolina NAACP and other groups (such as Occupy Raleigh, Planned Parenthood-NC and the NC Association of Educators) in response to the radical rightward lurch of state policy over the past year or more.

"Since North Carolina Republicans took over both legislative chambers in 2010," Think Progress summarizes in their coverage of the weekend march, "legislators have eliminated a host of programs and raised taxes on the bottom 80 percent, repealed a tax credit for 900,000 working families, enforced voter suppression efforts, blocked Medicaid coverage, cut pre-Kindergarten funding, cut federal unemployment benefits, and gave itself the authority to intervene in abortion lawsuits."

Dave Johnson at Seeing the Forest provided a round-up of the broad local coverage, even as the national media, by and large, ignored the massive rally.

According to Peter Montgomery at RH Reality Check, Rev. William Barber, President of the North Carolina NAACP and the keynote speaker at Saturday's event, "made 'higher ground' a theme of his remarks, contrasting the movement's public policy ideals with a litany of the 'mighty low' policies that became law after a far-right takeover of state government in the 2010 and 2012 elections."

Montgomery detailed the marchers "five demands for state government that reflect the broad concerns of its coalition --- and the targets of right-wing leaders":

1. Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that insure economic sustainability.
2. Provide well-funded, quality public education for all.
3. Promote health care for all, including affordable access, the expansion of Medicaid, women's health, and environmental justice in every community.
4. Address the continuing disparities in the criminal justice system on the basis of race and class.
5. Defend and expand voting rights, women's rights, immigrants' rights, LGBT rights, and the fundamental principle of equality under the law for all people.

"Multimillionaire Art Pope, a sort of home-grown Koch brother, had poured money into state elections," Montgomery explains. Pope, a longtime Koch Brothers associate and power-player in both the state and in the Koch's national Americans for Prosperity political operation, was named the state's Budget Director in 2012 by the Republican Governor Pat McCrory who Pope had paid handsomely to get elected that year.

"Far-right Republicans took the governorship and a supermajority in the state legislature [in 2012]. And in 2013 they made the most of it, gutting spending on education, rejecting the expansion of Medicaid to half a million poor people, and passing one the worst anti-voting laws in the country. They raised taxes on poor people by abolishing the Earned Income Tax Credit for almost a million families and used the savings to fund new tax breaks for a handful of the state's richest residents. The governor violated a campaign pledge by signing a law that further restricts access to abortion," writes Montgomery.

"North Carolina became, in short, the proving grounds for an untrammeled Tea Party approach to governance and what Barber calls 'extreme, constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible, economically insane policies.'," Montgomery says in his detailed report on the broad coalition that has come together via the "Moral" protests over the past year.

Citing the four African-American students who "kicked off the 1960s civil rights movement by trying to eat at a segregated lunch counter at Woolworth's in downtown Greensboro," North Carolina, The Nation's Ari Berman reports, "it was fitting that North Carolina's Moral Monday movement held a massive 'Moral March' in Raleigh [on Saturday] which began at Shaw University, exactly fifty-four years after North Carolina's trailblazing role in the civil rights movement."

The number of marchers was estimated to be between 80,000 and 100,000, though that number comes from rally organizers. No matter, its more than clear from the photos and videos [see the one posted below] that the march was fairly massive. It's hard to imagine it wouldn't have garnered topline coverage on cable news outlets and front pages of the nation's mainstream newspapers had it been a "Tea Party" rally.

The organizers say they plan to continue to grow their Moral Monday rallies in the new year.

"If today’s rally was any indication, the Moral Monday movement will be bigger and broader in 2014," reports Berman. "An estimated 15,000 activists attended the HKonJ rally last year, bringing thirty buses; this year, the NC NAACP estimated that 80,000 to 100,000 people rallied in Raleigh, with 100 buses converging from all over the state and country. It was the largest civil rights rally in the South since tens of thousands of voting rights activists marched from Selma to Montgomery in support of the Voting Rights Act."

But, shhh, don't tell the mainstream national media about it.

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If any further proof is needed that this not-Tea Party rally actually happened, here's video from the rally over Rev. Barber's remarks, as posted by the Charlotte News & Observer on Saturday...

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