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Tillis to citizens: You’re welcome to the G.A….except when you’re not

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.   

8 Comments

  1. Rob Schofield

    February 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    P.S. Just to add insult to injury, Tillis also thumbed his nose at another part of the First Amendment (and the ACLU’s recent court victory over state-sanctioned sectarian prayer) by convening today’s session with an explicitly Christian prayer led by — we kid you not — a Capitol Police officer.

  2. Rob Schofield

    February 16, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    P.P.S. None of this is to say that it doesn’t make sense to have some kind of reasonable crowd control for protesters at the G.A. But Tillis and his people just don’t seem to get it:

    By leaping to a heavy hand to deal with such an obviously peaceful, well-behaved and quiet group (the people had been counseled out side to be silent and repectful and proably had a median age of 55) they just shoot themslves in the foot politcally yet again. All Tillis had to do was come out and speak to he gathering with a measure of kindness and humility and he could have looked like a reasonable guy.

  3. HunterC

    February 16, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    Tillis really does need a new PR team.

    Handling this the way they did is a gift to Democrats.

  4. Frances Jenkins

    February 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    Rob are you aware that many people in the building(GA) EVEN Democrats felt the group was trying to stage a response from the Capital Security? Where is your honesty, are you trying to stage things because many issues are not going your way?

  5. Rob Schofield

    February 17, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Frances, dear – I was there. I helped organize the event. I can assure you that the only intent was to bear silent witness to the wasteful session in a way in which Rep. Tillis would know we were there and be reminded of the enormous frustration that millions of North Carolinians feel at the way he and his cronies are running the General Assembly. That”s why all participants in the event were counseled to be quiet and respectful (something they did)..

  6. gregflynn

    February 17, 2012 at 8:14 am

    “This section shall not apply to persons dressed in dark suits accessorized with rigid plastic or metal name tags.”

  7. Jack

    February 17, 2012 at 9:41 am

    FJ, do you read what you write? You’re redundant, you repeat yourself, and you say things over and over.

  8. […] evicted Post on February 17, 2012 by Rob Schofield No Comments As most people are aware by now, General Assembly police officers and House sergeants-at-arms evicted 50 or so peaceful and respect… from the second floor of the state Legislative Building under an obscure rule that purports to bar […]