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NC NAACP tops last week's arrests at legislature

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RALEIGH, N.C. -

The third straight week of NAACP protests at the North Carolina General Assembly prompted about 50 arrests Monday, bringing the civil rights group's total since it launched its offensive against the Republican-held legislature to nearly 100. 

A group of activists spanning different age groups and races were arrested outside a jam-packed Senate rotunda by police, who once again asked protestors to disperse twice before taking away those arrested.The number of people who joined the demonstrators in support also reached its highest total yet, reaching more than 150. 

General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver put the unofficial arrest count at 49, up from last week's 30 and the previous week's 17. He said those arrested will face similar misdemeanors as previous demonstrators, which have included charges of trespassing and breaking building rules. 

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and their supporters have attacked what they call an avalanche of regressive policies from Republican supermajorities ranging from cuts to social programs to restrictions on voting. 

This week's protest focused on labor rights and tax reform. Republicans have pitched plans to lower corporate and income taxes by broadening sales taxes, which critics argue disproportionately hurts the poor. They've also pushed for new bills further weakening labor unions in a state that already has so-called right-to-work laws. 

Protestors held up signs saying "Worker's rights are union rights" and led booming call-and-response chants of "This is what Democracy looks like!" and "fight, fight, fight!" 

What North Carolina chapter president the Rev. William Barber is now calling "Moral Mondays" will continue indefinitely. He says the demonstrations are part of a wider strategy that includes legal action and political organizing. 

Republican leaders have dismissed the protests as the voice of a fringe group angry over the Republican takeover of the General Assembly. The Republicans won the state legislature in 2010, the first time in more than a century.

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