Jim Sughrue, a spokesperson for the Raleigh police department, said the department was prepared to do whatever they could to ensure people could safely express their opinions.
He said Raleigh, as the state capital, is well-equipped to handle these types of events and large crowds.
Social media erupted after Gov. Pat McCrory signed the bill into law, sparking the action in Raleigh.
“We need to hold people who are representing us in our districts and our counties accountable because local legislation is really important,” said UNC junior Sophia Oliverio, who attended the protest.
She said she came to show her support for the LGBT community and her disappointment with the state legislature.
Ellie Teller, a UNC sophomore also in attendance, said the General Assembly’s views on LGBT rights and non-discrimination policies are antiquated.
“The idea that they thought they could pass this bill without a people’s vote, without any input, (it) really restricted us as North Carolina citizens to prevent this from happening,” she said.
UNC student body president-elect Bradley Opere also traveled to Raleigh to participate in the rallies and offer his support.
“I just want every student in the LGBT community to know that student government deeply cares about them, and to the best of our ability we will stand up with any student who feels unsafe in any way,” he said.
He said UNC’s student government is committed to protecting the entire student body, and he was disappointed they could not do more to prevent the bill’s passing.
“The bill is not something we support at all,” Opere said.
Cason Whitcomb, a UNC junior protesting at the governor’s mansion, said it is difficult to imagine a bill of this nature being passed in her home state.
“This bill directly affects me and people I love,” she said. “I think it’s absurd and hateful.”
But Oliverio said she thinks young people are growing more dissatisfied and have become more passionate about the political system.
“It will be important to see if that actually translates into voting in November,” she said.