Dozens of people gathered outside the N.C. Capitol building on Monday to speak out against House Bill 2, waving signs that read, "Y'all means all," or, "This is not us."
The protest came on the first day the General Assembly has been in session since it passed the now-infamous bill.
House Bill 2, dubbed “Hate Bill 2” by the protesters, is best known for a provision requiring people to use bathrooms of their sex as represented on their birth certificates. Since its enactment, the bill has received public backlash locally, nationally and internationally.
“This bill should not be how North Carolina is presented to the rest of the world, and we want to show the country that we do not stand behind the bill,” said Ryan Scott, a protest attendee.
Protests started at 9:30 a.m. with the presentation of a petition and ended at 4 p.m. with a mass sit-in that organizers had predicted would have hundreds in attendance.
The N.C. NAACP labeled the event a “Mass Moral Sit-Ins to Repeal Hate Bill 2,” and pledged the protest would be nonviolent and safe for all participants.
The protesters gathered on the steps of the N.C. Capitol building, taking turns listening to prominent speakers express their disgust for the bill.
“Everyone is coming together to say that this isn’t OK with us,” said Tonyia Rawls, founder and executive director of The Freedom Center for Social Justice.
She encouraged the people of North Carolina to come together as one to show that everyone should have equal protection under the law.
“No more division; we are one,” Rawls said as the crowd chanted with her.
AJ Williams, an organizer for The Freedom Center for Social Justice, also stepped forward, using a megaphone to challenge Gov. Pat McCrory.
“Did you not think that the beautiful people of North Carolina would organize, Pat McCrory?” Williams said.
He said the protests would not stop until the state repealed House Bill 2.
Not all in attendance gathered in support of repealing the bill — counter-protesters mobilized to show support for the bill and disapproval of the protest.
As part of the NAACP's protest agreement, the organization pledged to not respond to aggressive or disparaging remarks that were made by opposing groups.
The Rev. William Barber II, president of the N.C. NAACP, spoke to the gathered crowd intermittently throughout the event, chanting phrases like “solidarity,” “shut it down” and “I believe that we will win.”
“We can count on the media and most people to just read the first line of the bill … the problem is, though, that we read it and are not going to be divided,” Barber said.
Barber was met with cheers from the crowd as he said a possible bill to repeal House Bill 2 was introduced Monday morning.
“If you speak strong and speak right, it will cause reverberation,” he said.
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