The Asheville Police Department estimated 3,500 people crowded into Pack Square Park at 5 p.m. on Monday, carrying signs expressing outrage against a number of local and state issues: women’s health, education, environment, water, equality and voting rights, among others. By 6 p.m., crowd estimates were reaching 5,000 and up.
Last year, the event was attended by 6,500 to 10,000.
Rev. William Barber, the president of the state NAACP, rallied the crowd following a number of moving speeches. The thousands in attendance roared in applause as he delivered each line.
“It does not matter what the critics call us,” he shouted out, as U.S., N.C. and LGBT pride flags waved. “You can call us a bunch of liberals; you can call us communists. But it’s not what you call us, it’s what we answer to. And we know who we are!
“We are black. We are white. We are Latino. We are Native American. We are democrats. We are Republicans. We are independents. We are people of faith. We are people not of faith, who believe in a moral universe. We are native. We are immigrants. We are business leaders. We are workers. We are doctors. We are the uninsured. We are gay; we are straight. We are students; we are retirees.
“We stand here, a quilt of many colors. We are united in our efforts to fight for the soul of our state. We know who we are.
“We are the mountains. We are the coastlands. We are North Carolina. We are America. This is what democracy looks like!”
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