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North Carolina erupts in protest over anti-LGBT law

Hollywood, corporations, and even the NBA are threatening a state boycott.


Mary Emily O'Hara


North Carolina’s capital succumbed to the second day of unrest on Thursday over passage of a state law that restricts residents’ protections against discrimination.

Five people who chained themselves together at a protest in front of the North Carolina governor’s mansion were arrested in Raleigh and charged with resisting a police officer.

According to WNCN, the names of the arrestees are Jessica Nicole Jude, 27, of Durham; Noah Rubin-Blose, 32, of Hillsborough; Ngoc Loan Thi Tran, 20, of Durham; Salma Mahud Mirza, 28, of Durham; and Jade Meadow Brooks, 32, of Durham.

Protests began online immediately on Wednesday night after North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed the state’s House Bill 2 into law. The new law bans all cities and towns within the state from enacting local anti-discrimination policies, from raising the minimum wage or ensuring additional wage and labor protections for workers to effectively preventing any municipality from offering equal rights protections to LGBT people. 

The state’s Republican-controlled House voted 82-26 for the law, but all of the Senate Democrats walked off the floor in protest.

State residents took to social media in a broad bipartisan opposition, using the hashtag #WeAreNotThis to announce their disgust with the new law. Unnumbered Republicans announced plans to switch parties, while local businesses posted statements ensuring locals that they would not comply with the new law’s ban on transgender people using bathrooms in accordance with their gender identity and/or presentation. 

Street protests took shape on Thursday afternoon, with the largest occurring outside the governor’s mansion in Raleigh, where a crowd of dozens quickly ballooned into hundreds. 

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Protestors vogued, danced, chanted, and yelled with rage as police cut the chains holding the five people together and pulled them into vans. But locals weren’t the only ones displaying outrage at the state’s new mandatory discrimination law: unions, national civil-rights groups, corporations, celebrities, and even Hollywood studios issued threats to boycott or sue the state in response to the HB 2.

Prominent Hollywood director Rob Reiner issued a statement through the Human Rights Campaign announcing his plans to boycott filming in the state until the law is repealed, and said that he encouraged his film and television colleagues to follow suit.

Many expect Disney to follow suit, after the company pledged to pull productions out of Georgia in response to a similar discrimination law there. In North Carolina, the list of corporations that have issued statements in opposition to HB 2 so far includes Google, American Airlines, Dow, the NBA, Apple, and more.

Some of those companies threatened boycotts as well, such as the NBA’s suggestion that it might pull its 2017 All-Star Game from Charlotte, North Carolina, as a result of the law.

In a joint statement issued Wednesday night, the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and Equality North Carolina announced possible plans to bring legal action against the state. Calls to impeach Gov. McCrory grew louder online on Friday as the #WeAreNotThis campaign gains steam. 

Photo via krytofr/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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