The N.C. General Assembly continued its “out of control” ways again today — even when it did essentially nothing (except spend a lot of public money on yet another do-nothing “special” session).
The newest absurdity took place when Capitol Police and members of the House Sergeant-at-Arms detail confronted 50 to 60 demonstrators who had entered the Legislative Building after an outside rally with the intent of silently lining the spacious hallway/corridor that lies between House Speaker Tillis’s office and the House chamber.
First, the officers demanded that protesters not display messages written on simple 8-by-11 pieces of copy paper. Such displays would violate the General Assembly’s “ban on signs” it was claimed.
Then, when protesters arrived at their intended protest site on the second floor of the Legislative Building — a venue that is frequently crowded during legislative sessions with lobbyists, reporters and all sort of politcal hangers on and interested members of the public and that also includes several legislative offices in which citizens can visit their lawmakers — the officers ordered the protesters to depart, citing a rule that supposedly bars the public from the second floor of the Legislative Building without prior authorization (a rule that has never been enforced in the memory of anyone in the group — which included many folks who have been coming to the legislature for decades.) After some uncomfortable and semi-tense moments, the protesters removed to the House gallery. You can watch video by clicking here.
Ironically, the actions by Tillis’s officers came just six weeks after Tillis spoke to reporters and other interested observers (in a crowded scrum in the same hallway) after the midnight madness session. At that time, Tillis was asked the following by a reporter:
“Do you expect the public to be here at 1:00 am..to hear the veto of that bill?”
To which he replied:
“Uhhh…they’re welcome. Uh…they’re probably not here but everybody should know, the public should know, or any of the vested interests…”
So, as best as can be determined, here is what Tillis is saying:
The public should know that the General Assembly under his leadership can and will do just about anything it has the votes to get away with anytime it can pull it off. And, provided they can figure this out and know when to show up, the public is “welcome” to come to their own Legislative Building to watch — just so long as they keep quiet and stay out of sight.