Eleven activists were arrested while hundreds of North Carolinians stormed the General Assembly in Raleigh on Monday afternoon demanding that lawmakers repeal the controversial legislation dubbed 'Hate Bill 2.'
"This bill is anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-children, anti-family, anti-civil rights, anti-the poor, anti-North Carolina, and anti-America," declared Rev. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP and leader of the Moral Monday movement.
The local chapter of the national civil rights group has led state-wide protests against the suppression of voting rights, women's rights, and lack of education funding, among other issues, and on Monday turned its attention to the recently enacted anti-transgender law HB2.
Capitol police estimated that 450 people rallied at the park outside of the legislature before the crowd overran the government building.
— Southern Equality (@CSElive) May 16, 2016
— Southern Equality (@CSElive) May 16, 2016
As for the arrests, the local ABC affiliate reports:
The group of 11 were the ones who signed up to deliver a list of demands to top lawmakers. They delivered that list to the House Principal Clerk's office.
When they refused to then leave at the request of the clerk, she asked the General Assembly police to intervene. Police gave the protesters several warnings and then arrested them. As they were taken away by police, fellow protesters cheered.
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Barber, who referred to the new law as a Trojan horse, told the crowd that the government "want us to be talking about bathrooms and be divided over bathrooms."
"We will fight them in the courts, we’ll fight them in the ballot box, and we’ll put our bodies on the line to oppose one of the most underhanded, devious and unconstitutional pieces of discriminatory legislation ever passed in North Carolina history," said Vicki Ryder, a member of the activist group Raging Grannies, who were at the protest in force.
The group is demanding that lawmakers:
- Repeal HB2
- Dismiss the state's lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice
- Hold a meeting between government supporters of the bill, rights advocates, and a delegation of citizens impacted by the law
- Pass the Human Rights Act of 2016—which, according to Barber, "reaffirm[s] the fundamental right of all persons in North Carolina to live, work, study and play in discrimination-free places" and reinforces these rights "through an expanded Office of Administrative Hearings and North Carolina courts."
The protest amplified the local opposition to HB2—which forces transgender people to use public facilities that correspond with their biological sex, rather than gender identity—adding the people's voice to the national outcry against the bill.
The discriminatory law has also drawn international attention as the News & Observer reported two German news crews present at Monday's protest. And last month, the UK issued a travel warning for LGBTQ tourists visiting "anti-gay" U.S. states including North Carolina and Mississippi, which recently passed its own discriminatory law.
On Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of North Carolina, and Lambda Legal filed a motion in asking a federal court to halt implementation of the North Carolina rule while their legal case against it proceeds through the court system.
"Each day that transgender North Carolinians are singled out by this harmful law, whether they are at school, at work, or just moving through their daily lives in society is another day the state is causing irreparable harm to an already vulnerable community," said Kyle Palazzolo, a staff attorney with Lambda Legal.
"As Attorney General Lynch said this week, 'None of us can stand by when a state enters the business of legislating identity and insists that a person pretend to be something they are not, or invents a problem that doesn’t exist as a pretext for discrimination and harassment,'" Palazzolo added, "and we couldn’t agree more."