Leaders with the North Carolina chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have issued an ultimatum to the state’s legislative leadership: repeal the sweeping anti-LGBT law known as House Bill 2 by April 21, or face sit-in demonstrations at the general assembly.
Time Warner Cable News reports that leaders with the statewide chapter of the national organization are embarrassed by what they call “Hate Bill 2,” which rescinds all local LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination protections and requires transgender people to use public restrooms and locker rooms that do not match their gender identity.
“We are the laughing stock of the whole nation,” said Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina NAACP at a press conference Saturday.
“Hate Bill 2 is the politics of Jesse Helms revisited,” Barber added, according to a tweet from cooperating worker’s advocacy group Raise Up for $15. “It’s not about bathrooms. It’s about oppression.”
Barber’s reference to “the politics of Jesse Helms” points to the late North Carolina Senator and staunch conservative who made a career for himself out of disenfranchising people of color and immigrants.
The NAACP is no stranger to organizing direct actions, though the promise to hold sit-ins harkens back to the Civil Rights Movement, which itself has deep roots in North Carolina. The historic Woolworth lunch counter sit-ins of 1960 took place in Greensboro, N.C., inspiring similar nonviolent direct actions nationwide to protest segregationist Jim Crow laws.
Meeting Barber’s ultimatum would require lawmakers to call a special legislative session to repeal the law — as they did to introduce, pass, and enact HB 2 in less than 24 hours on March 23. The North Carolina legislature is slated to return to its regular session on April 25, reports the Charlotte News and Observer.
“On the 25th, we are calling for people of conscience to come in, and engage in mass sit-ins,” Barber said Saturday. The demonstration will be “a sign that [as] we sit, this legislation needs to be sat down.”
The new law was drafted in response to the Charlotte city council approving a trans-inclusive public accommodations ordinance in February. The state's Republican governor, Pat McCrory, has consistently defended the law as one that enforces "common sense" protections to keep women and children safe. McCrory and his supporters continue to advance the provably false claim that allowing transgender people to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity permits sexual predators to enter gender-segregated spaces and assault people.
In reality, while more than 200 localities nationwide have trans-inclusive laws on the books, there has never been a single verified report of a transgender person assaulting a cisgender (nontrans) person in a restroom, nor have there been any instances of someone “pretending” to be transgender to gain access to sex-segregated spaces for nefarious purposes. By contrast, however, transgender people face a much higher risk of being the victims of physical and verbal assault in sex-segregated spaces, compared to their cisgender peers.
“This is not about bathrooms, North Carolina,” added Bishop Tonyia Rawls, who leads Charlotte’s Sacred Souls Community Church and serves as the executive director of The Freedom Center. “It’s about money and votes.”