More than a dozen arrested as protests greet returning lawmakers

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCT) – The first day of the new legislative session is in the books, but not before more than a thousand people gathered to protest the controversial House Bill 2, eventually leading to more than a dozen arrests.

The NAACP led a rally outside of the legislative building Monday afternoon. The overwhelming majority of those in attendance were asking lawmakers to repeal HB2.

“House Bill 2 discriminates against so many of us,” said Gene Simpson. “Not just gays like me and my partner, but against transgender people. All people of North Carolina.”

Pastor Orrick Quick from High Point said he stands with lawmakers who passed the bill. He said God sent him there to stand up to the other protesters and say enough is enough.

“If that man’s got what I got, he don’t need to be in a women’s bathroom,” Quick said.

The protests outside eventually turned to a sit-in inside of the legislative building. After being asked to leave multiple times, police began arresting people. As they were escorted out, other protesters chanted, “Thank you, we love you.”

Protests also interrupted the House session. Right before adjourning for the day, chants and screams broke out from the balcony, as some lawmakers were ushered out of the room.

Sen. Don Davis (D- Dist. 5) said he has stood against the bill since the beginning.

“I don’t believe that the state should support a position of discrimination in any means, shape or form,” he said.

Davis was just one of the Democratic Senators who walked out before the vote for HB2 during the special session in March. However, he said that wouldn’t impact their work now.

“It’s not about our feelings,” Davis said. “It’s about trying to be responsive to the needs of our constituents as well as the residents of the state of North Carolina.”

Rep. George Cleveland (R) of Onslow County said the backlash against the bill shows where the world is right now. He said he remains supportive of the bill, and doesn’t want to change it at all.

“We’re not kids on the field. We’re not going to take our ball and go home. We’re going to play. And I don’t think HB2 is going to be messed with,” Cleveland said.

A bill filed Monday by four Democratic representatives asks for a complete repeal of the law, which would allow the Charlotte Transgender Ordinance to stand.

The House and Senate were only in session Monday for about 20 minutes. They will reconvene on Tuesday.

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