A Mecklenburg County lawmaker plans to introduce legislation in response to a video of a crowd of protesters following former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory down an alley in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Dan Bishop, a Charlotte Republican, said Monday his measure would make it a crime to “threaten, intimidate, or retaliate against a present or former North Carolina official in the course of, or on account of, the performance of his or her duties.”
That was a response to a video that showed protesters herding the former governor down an alley and chanting “shame” and “anti-gay bigot” at the governor who signed House Bill 2.
Bishop was a prime sponsor of the bill passed in response to a Charlotte ordinance extending anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community. It would have allowed transgender people to use the public bathroom of the gender with which they identify. HB2 nullified that and it bars similar ordinances.
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In response to the state law, businesses have canceled expansions, sports leagues have relocated events, and celebrities have boycotted the state.
In a news release, Bishop said he would also ask lawmakers “to take other appropriate steps to guarantee the personal safety of Gov. McCrory by all necessary means.”
“If Gov. McCrory were a former official of the District of Columbia, this incident might have been a crime punishable by five years in prison,” Bishop said in his release. “…So should it be in North Carolina. This is dangerous. Jim Hunt, Bev Purdue and other governors never faced riotous mobs in their post-service, private lives, without personal security.”
Bishop also said the Observer “laughed off” the episode with a story that he called “contemptible.”
In a statement, ACLU state policy director Sarah Gillooly said the protesters were within their First Amendment rights.
“People’s right to criticize politicians – whether in a newspaper, at a meeting, or on a public street – is the very heart of what the First Amendment protects,” she said. “Everyone deserves protection from violence, but politicians who run for and serve in public office shouldn’t get special treatment to shield them from criticism.”
A Greensboro Socialist group on Facebook has taken credit for the incident captured on the video.
In a Facebook post Monday, the Greensboro Socialists - ISO page wrote “Comrades' video shaming Pat McCrory at the Inauguration Day protests have gone viral, thanks to the timely and dedicated work of our comrades across the Triad.”
The video was posted by Facebook user Udai Basavaraj on Friday about 4 p.m., four hours after President Trump’s inauguration, and is tagged at the Capital Hilton in Washington. The (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed.