The Latest: 3 dozen more protesters arrested at legislature

AP News
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Posted: Apr 25, 2016 9:40 PM

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on rallies held over a law limiting protections for LGBT people on the first day of North Carolina's legislative session (all times local):

9:15 p.m.

Three dozen more protesters have been arrested amid protests against a North Carolina law limiting restroom use by transgender people and curbing LGBT ordinances by local governments. Authorities say those latest arrests came after protesters failed to leave the Legislative Building after it closed for the night.

Authorities said 36 people were arrested Monday evening outside House Speaker Tim Moore's closed office.

That brings to 54 the number of opponents of the law who were led away in plastic handcuffs or carried away on the General Assembly's opening day of its annual work session.

Acting General Assembly Police Chief Martin Brock says all of those arrested would be charged with second-degree trespassing. He also says they'll be cited for violating building rules or the fire code. Brock says one also faces a resisting arrest charge.

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7:05 p.m.

Police are making first arrests of protesters who entered North Carolina's Legislative Building to express opposition to a new law addressing limits on LGBT protections and bathroom use by transgender people.

General Assembly police officers have led away at least 18 demonstrators in plastic handcuffs out of House Speaker Tim Moore's outer office by early Monday evening. The House and Senate scheduled their first meeting Monday night of this year's session.

It wasn't immediately clear if the protesters being led away would face charges. About a dozen protesters waited outside Moore's office.

Hundreds of people have been arrested at the Legislative Building over the past three years in protest against Republican policies. The state NAACP has led the movement. People supporting and opposing the law held rallies Monday.

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6:25 p.m.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory and a top General Assembly leader say the state's new law on LGBT rights and transgender bathroom rules won't be repealed during this year's legislative session.

Some House Democrats filed a bill to repeal the law Monday, the session's first day. Speaking to reporters in Wilmington after a public appearance, McCrory said a repeal is "not going to happen." And House Speaker Tim Moore said later in Raleigh that overturning the law known as House Bill 2 is "not something we're even talking about right now."

Moore and McCrory both said they are interested in changing part of the law that appears to prevent workers from suing in state court under an employment non-discrimination law.

The law requires transgender people in government buildings to use the public bathrooms aligned with their biological sex and prevents local governments from expanding non-discrimination protections in public accommodation to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

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5:20 p.m.

Protesters are taking turns sitting outside the offices of the North Carolina General Assembly's top leaders to demand the repeal of a new law curtailing protections for LGBT people and limiting public bathroom access for transgender people.

Several dozen people gathered Monday outside of House Speaker Tim Moore's office. About the same number clustered outside the office of Senate leader Phil Berger.

State NAACP leader the Rev. William Barber led demonstrators in prayer outside Moore's office, then ushered the protesters out so others could take their place. Demonstrators left behind a stack of placards denouncing the law that blocks local and state protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. It also directs which restrooms transgender people can use.

More protesters were expected into the evening.

The legislature convenes Monday night for its annual work session.

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2:25 p.m.

About 20 people held a sit-in outside North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's office in the old Capitol building to protest a law that curtails protections for LGBT people.

The group joined arms Monday and sang songs including "We Shall Not Be Moved."

Among them was Mara Keisling, who leads the National Center for Transgender Equality.

Keisling, a transgender woman, told the group: "On the bright side, I used the women's bathroom here in the governor's house," referring to the fact that his office is in the building.

After two of them delivered a written statement to McCrory's chief of staff, they were told they wouldn't be asked to leave. After about an hour, they decided to file out of the building so they could rejoin a group planning a larger sit-in later in the afternoon.

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2 p.m.

Thousands of supporters of North Carolina's new law limiting protections for LGBT people and the use of restrooms by transgender people in public places have a message for Gov. Pat McCrory and legislators: We've got your back.

Pastors and conservative advocates spoke at a midday rally Monday on a grassy mall behind the Legislative Building and urged elected officials to protect the law. The General Assembly reconvenes its annual work session Monday night.

The Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League of North Carolina praised lawmakers for passing the law last month even though he said they knew they would be attacked by left-leaning organizations and it could cost them politically.

Bill sponsor Rep. Dan Bishop of Charlotte also spoke at the rally and blamed Charlotte city leaders for passing an ordinance that prompted the need for the law in the first place.

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12:50 p.m.

Tempers are flaring as supporters and opponents of a new North Carolina transgender law hold competing rallies to sway legislators starting their annual session.

A single supporter of the law got into a shouting match Monday with several people at a rally against the law on the grounds of the state's 19th century Capitol building.

The middle-aged white man in sunglasses and a blue shirt shouted that the law's opponents are sick and can't tell a man from a woman. Several people confronted him, but the altercation never appeared to become physical. Officers escorted him away without arresting him.

The man would not give his name to reporters.

The law blocks local and state protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and directs which restrooms transgender people can use.

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11:50 a.m.

North Carolina House Democrats have filed legislation to repeal the Republican-backed law that blocks local and state protections for LGBT citizens and directs which restrooms transgender people can use.

The Democrats offered the bill Monday, the first day of the legislature's annual work session. The bill has no Republican sponsors. GOP legislative leaders have said they aren't interested in overturning the law approved in a special session last month.

Primary co-sponsor Rep. Darren Jackson says he's hoping momentum from national business leaders and other groups opposing the law will keep the repeal movement front and center this session. Jackson wants a hearing on the bill and an up-or-down vote.

Rallies supporting and opposing the law were going on Monday near the Legislative Building and the old Capitol, where Gov. Pat McCrory's office is. McCrory signed the bill into law.

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11:30 a.m.

A day of rallies at North Carolina's statehouse began with the delivery of petitions signed by 180,000 people seeking the repeal of a law that curtails protections for LGBT people.

About 200 people gathered Monday on the grounds of the old Capitol building to hear speakers denounce the law known as House Bill 2, or HB2. They then carried two-dozen cardboard boxes of signatures into the Capitol for delivery to state leaders.

The head of the state NAACP, the Rev. William Barber, called the law "Hate Bill 2." He says it affects the poor and minorities as well as the LGBT community.

Another rally in support of the law was planned for the early afternoon, and the Legislature was scheduled to convene Monday night.

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4:30 a.m.

North Carolina legislators returning for their annual work session will hear loud and clear from supporters and opponents of a law they approved last month addressing bathroom use by transgender people and limiting government protections for LGBT citizens.

Christian conservatives and other backers of the law known as House Bill 2 scheduled a midday rally Monday — the first day of the session — near the Legislative Building in Raleigh. Later civil rights groups led by the state NAACP will rally to oppose Republican policies like the law approved in a special session last month. They also plan a "mass sit-in" inside the Legislative Building.

Earlier Monday, representatives of gay-rights groups will present a petition to Gov. Pat McCrory's office asking he seek the law's repeal.