Politics & Government

House Bill 2 sit-in at McCrory’s office ends with handshakes instead of arrests

A sit-in outside Gov. Pat McCrory’s office Monday ended without arrests after House Bill 2 protesters met with the governor’s chief of staff, Thomas Stith.

The NAACP organized the protest, which included chanting, singing and praying on the first floor of the old Capitol building. Two protesters were invited inside the governor’s office for a short meeting with Stith; McCrory was not present.

After the meeting, about a dozen people sat down and blocked one of the entrances to the governor’s office. Security officers said the sit-in would violate building rules “if anyone's trying to get in around them.”

No one attempted to use the blocked entrance, and the protesters realized they would not be arrested or asked to leave unless they stayed after the Capitol’s 5 p.m. closing – an action that would prompt them to miss a rally and other events. The protesters decided to leave the building around 1:30 p.m., shaking hands with the police officers on their way out.

Stith met with Julie Peeples, pastor at Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro, and Cosmos George, a doctor from Warren County. Peeples said the governor’s staff members were “clearly listening” to their requests that McCrory support the “Human Rights Act of 2016” proposed by the NAACP and its partner groups.

“We’re asking the governor to take leadership in reversing the fear and the hate that’s been created by HB2, and instead put in its place a bill that would ensure the safety, the nondiscrimination and the equality of all citizens,” Peeples said.

George said McCrory’s executive order calling for tweaks to House Bill 2 was “totally inadequate.”

“The simple way to fix it is to repeal it,” George added.

Additional protests and acts of “civil disobedience” were planned for the Legislative Building later Monday afternoon. Legislative sergeants-at-arms were already standing guard outside the offices of House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger in anticipation of protests.

McCrory’s office released a statement on an earlier petition delivery calling for repeal, saying the signatures were only enough “to fill two boxes, and the overwhelming majority of signatures were from out-of-state.”

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