Stories of Justice
by Victoria Zula
I decided that I could no longer stand by and watch the legislature erode the laws and social programs we have put in place to protect the most vulnerable of North Carolinians. My husband, Scott, drove me to Raleigh, not to get arrested, but he faithfully chauffeured me and kept me hydrated and calorically ready. I could not have done it without him! We attended the NAACP meeting & rally at the Christian Faith Baptist Church at 3 pm. Then, about 5 pm, we drove to the Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh, just adjacent to the NC Legislature building. Later, I followed the protesters into the legislative building. At the protest just outside the doors to the NC Senate floor, the Rev. Barber asked me to say a few words about why I was there. This is what I said:
"I am here because my husband was laid off. I now have to depend on my Social Security Disability benefits and Medicare for my health care insurance. I am here to represent the physically handicapped and ill people who do not have a power chair and could not get to the legislature to protest the refusal of state legislators to extend Medicaid benefits that are paid by the federal government."
The crowd cheered and I did not get to finish my statement. I wanted to add that I was there as a parent to show my child that it is necessary to speak out and participate in non-violent civil disobedience when you see injustice.
I was the only person allowed to speak before they gave orders to the crowd to vacate the premises. We sang "I've got a feeling...everything's gonna be alright." Then the officers arrested us. The other protesters were handcuffed, but I was allowed to drive myself into the elevator uncuffed. We were taken to the basement cafeteria where we were searched and photographed but not finger printed or given formal mug shots. Since I was in my wheelchair, I couldn't go with the others in the bus, so instead I was transported to the detention center a couple of miles away via ambulance. The police were super efficient and had me out of there by 8:15 pm. The other protesters got out closer to 9 pm. Scott met me at the station with the power wheel chair that I had to abandon before the ambulance and we were home by 9:30 pm.