Letter from Jim Neal after his arrest for equality direct action at the NC General Assembly
Former U.S. Senate candidate Jim Neal, who was arrested on Thursday along with Angel Chandler of GetEQUAL NC and her partner Mary Counce for civil disobedience at the NC General Assembly over the proposed marriage amendment bills, wanted to share this note with Blenders. The photo is from GetEQUAL’s Rally in Raleigh earlier that day.
In NC we are witnessing an attempt by state legislators in the majority- abetted by a few in the minority- to effectively repeal the 20th century. Aside from targeting and seeking to intimidate the LGBT community with the threat of denying equal rights under the State constitution (amendments to constitutions usually expand- not restrict- individual rights)– here as across America there is a frontal assault on our education system, our mental and public health systems, our environment, womens’ reproductive rights and the social compact that has maintained a strong middle class…….and most cynically, doing so on the backs of the poor, the intimidated and the disenfranchised.
What’s playing out before my eyes is the classic “it’s them” divide and conquer strategy, a strategy that has always failed in this nation’s ongoing march towards full equality. “Equal rights” aren’t some nebulous province of this class or the other; rather, equal rights are your rights, they are my rights and they are the rights of all mankind.
I am but one individual, an individual who once campaigned for elective office as a proxy for those having no voice- as politicians all so often do. My campaign didn’t end in 2008 anymore than did our nation’s progress end on the battlefront at Yorktown, the steps of Appomattox Courthouse or the streets of Selma. For until the day when no man, no woman and no child is embraced in the bosom of liberty and justice, there will be equal rights for none.
I am no longer willing to passively bear witness to the ghettoization of LGBT people, the poor, the middle class and the weak. No body and no individual has the rightful dominion to diminish the unalienable rights to to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in our United States of America.
This note in response to my defiance of the law today is neither some personal manifesto, act of self-aggrandizement, stunt nor press release. It’s been a long day and I felt like recording my thoughts and forwarding them to a collection of friends and family. What I and other did today was hardly courageous or unprecedented. I will say that my personal expression of civil disobedience today was perhaps the most noble gesture I have made in my lifetime.
As some of you know, two of my heroes are Alexander the Great (hence, the name of my business The Agema Group) and Sir Winston Churchill (hence, the name of my youngest son Winston Dwyer Neal.) Both men captured my fancy for their courage and leadership and defiance. Alexander, the King of all kings, always led his troops into battle from the front line (protected by his elite regiment, the agema) putting his life at most risk. And Sir Winston, amongst his many quips, said:
You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something sometime in your life.
Thanks for your support.
I’m still standing.
All of those arrested were charged with Trespassing 2 and disorderly conduct. Jim’s court date is July 11.