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McCrory says he has mingled among protesters

RALEIGH The Wilson Times reported this week that Gov. Pat McCrory said he has often entered the crowds that gather in the capital city to protest the Republican agenda and policies. He said he even got a good cussing by protesters.

But in the age of mobile phone cameras and instant posting to social media, the governor seems to have moved in and out of the throngs without anyone capturing his interaction on video or film.

Janet Conner-Knox, a reporter with the Wilson newspaper, met with McCrory on Wednesday while he was in town to praise Wells Fargo for expanding a loan program to farmers.

Conner-Knox said on Thursday that she asked McCrory specifically about the Moral Monday demonstrations and whether he planned to ever talk with the protesters.

His response, which she said she recorded, was: “I go out in the crowd all of the time. Frankly, yesterday I went out and talked to several of them and they were not very respectful. They did not represent the majority of those who call themselves ‘moral’ by cussing me out, but that’s the way things go sometimes.”

It’s not clear by “yesterday” whether the governor was talking about Moral Monday or a Tuesday abortion protest. Conner-Knox’s report is at bit.ly/12kloPj.

Repeated efforts Thursday to reach McCrory’s spokeswoman, Kim Genardo, were unsuccessful.

The governor putting himself in the crowds gathered for demonstrations came as news to the organizers of the “Moral Monday” protests that have resulted in more than 750 arrests since April 29.

Organizers and others scanned photographs and video from the widely documented demonstrations, hunting for any sign of McCrory.

Jeff Weaver, chief of the General Assembly police department that has been tasked with providing security for the weekly Moral Monday events, said he had not seen the governor at the demonstrations nor had any of his officers reported seeing him.

The Rev. William Barber, head of the state NAACP, made similar remarks.

“We have not seen nor heard from the governor,” Barber said. “And his description of Moral Monday once again reveals he hasn’t seen or chosen to really listen to us – but instead continues to be dismissive of the very citizens he was elected to serve – which is disrespectful to the purpose of his office as governor.”

McCrory said last month he had no desire to meet with protesters.

In June, McCrory was photographed outside the Capitol offices tossing a baseball with some of his staff while a group of demonstrators protesting cuts to public education were inside trying to deliver a petition signed by 16,000 people. The demonstrators had been told by an aide that the governor was busy in a meeting until 5 p.m. But minutes later, a group member snapped a picture of McCrory throwing the ball on the Capitol lawn.

That photo was displayed the next day on a progressive website.

By late Thursday, no photos or video of the governor getting cussed out by demonstrators had emerged on any websites.

Barber called the governor’s comments a “disturbing delusion or illusion.”

Blythe: 919-836-4948
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