LGBT Debate Results in NC Statehouse Arrests

A day of protests and arrests around North Carolina’s statehouse marked what’s likely to be weeks of impassioned debate over a law limiting protections for LGBT people.

Officers arrested 54 protesters who came to voice opposition to the law late Monday as legislators returned to start their session. The arrests capped a day of dueling demonstrations that also included thousands of people who gathered to praise the law.

Top elected Republican leaders in the state said they do not plan on repealing the law.

Ken Jones of Swannanoa was among three-dozen demonstrators who stayed long after the chambers gaveled out. He said he was encouraged by the fact that dozens were willing to risk arrest.

“It’s a reason for hope. There’s so many of us here,” he said. “I’m pretty passionate about it.”

Three waves of several dozen people held sit-ins outside the offices of legislative leaders. The final group included those who sought to be arrested to make their point.

Shortly before the evening session began, more than a dozen demonstrators walked into House Speaker Tim Moore’s office and began chanting.

A few minutes later, law enforcement officers started leading out the protesters who had entered Moore’s office, one by one, in plastic handcuffs. One man had to be carried out.

Acting General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock said all would be charged with second-degree trespassing, and would be cited for violating building rules or the fire code. Brock says one also faces a resisting arrest charge.

North Carolina House Democrats filed legislation Monday to repeal the law, though a lack of Republican sponsors made its chances appear slim.