Militant Journalism

Eyewitness NC: Mass arrests, sit-ins ring in new era of fightback against HB2

On April 25,  in a series of actions, activists from all over the state and elsewhere gathered in front of the North Carolina state legislative building, demanding a repeal to HB2, the infamous “bathroom bill,” or as demonstrators call it, “Hate Bill 2.” The first action, at 9:30 a.m., was hosted by multiple mass organizations lead in a large part by the NAACP, Turnout, Black Lives Matter and others.

This action included speeches by locals sharing their stories about racial and gender discrimination. Speakers included Chad Griffin, President of the Human Rights campaign; Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrare, Executive Director at the Campaign for Southern Equality; Sarah Preston, Executive Director at ACLU of N.C.; Rev. Dr. William Barber II, President of the NC NAACP; Will Feichter, President of Myriad Media; Joaquin Carcaño, ACLU Plaintiff (trans man of color); Rev. Debra Hopkins, Charlotte trans woman and pastor; Erica Lachowitz, Charlotte advocate from Turnout NC; Hope Tyler, parent of trans son from N.C.

After the speeches we marched and delivered a petition to the front door of Gov. McCrory’s office with 18,700 signatures calling for a full repeal of HB2. I had traveled hours to arrive in Raleigh for the series of actions, but found that many in the crowd had come from out of state to stand with trans people and the people engaged in struggle in North Carolina. It was great to see how committed the activists were, coming from all over the state and country.

After the first demonstration, some activists gathered at the grounds where the weekly Moral Monday demonstration was to take place in a few hours. During this time there was a pro-HB2 taking place on the other side of the legislative building. While surprisingly high numbers came out in support of HB2; however, once the clock struck 2 (one hour before Moral Monday) progressive protesters far outnumbered the bigoted right-wingers.

There was little direct conflict between the groups, other than the occasional drifter from one side to the next. A man in support of HB2 came over to our side to try and get a rise out of us. He said things like “You’re all going to hell!” And “You’re all sinners,” to which I responded “Thou shall not judge! Isn’t that a commandment?”

During Moral Monday, members of the NAACP trained demonstrators for the mass sit-ins to take place during the short session of the general assembly. Members of the NAACP and Equality gave speeches about their experiences with discrimination and the lack of legal support in such a right wing state.

During the mass sit-ins led by Rev. Dr. Barber, 54 were arrested for interrupting the short session of the general assembly on Monday at 4:30 p.m.

The day long series of united actions marked the beginning of continued fightback, picking up from the tremendous outpouring of spontaneous actions immediately after the passage of HB2. April 25 marked not only the start of an unbeatable united movement in North Carolina, but the beginning of conditions conducive to organizing to change the system that feeds on such ugly bigotry.


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