Police arrested at least five protesters Thursday who chained themselves in front of the governor’s mansion to oppose a new law passed the day before that prevents local governments from opening bathrooms for people based on their gender identification.
Those arrested are Jade Brooks, 30, Salma Mirza, 28, Ngoc Tram, 20 – all from Durham – and Noah Rubin-Blose, 32, from Hillsborough. One juvenile was also arrested. All are charged with impeding the flow of traffic and with resisting, delaying or obstructing officers.
Hundreds of people filled the street and sidewalk outside the mansion to protest the law, which limits local nondiscrimination ordinances and overturned a Charlotte ordinance that would have allowed people to use public accommodations based on their gender identity.
But the law “is not just about peeing,” said Loan Tran of Durham, who sat, chained to a few others, in the middle of the street.
“We are fighting for freedom of movement,” Tran said. “We want to live. We have to live.”
The crowd gathered on Blount Street for more than three hours, waving signs, chanting, and making speeches. #BlackLivesMatter Queer and Trans People of Color Coalition organized the protest with the support of 20 other groups.
One person dressed in an inflatable dinosaur costume carried a sign that said “Bigotry is so prehistoric.”
At one point, a light on the second floor of the mansion went on. “The governor’s watching,” someone shouted, and people raised their middle fingers toward the window.
Republicans in the legislature said the bill, as it applied to bathrooms, was about preserving privacy that people expect in those facilities.
“The bill rolls back decades of hard-won progress, and will harm our whole state,” said Eva Panjwani, 20, of Durham. “It undermines municipal democratic control, advancements in anti-discrimination policy, and further prohibits wage increases. This is a direct assault on working families and particularly working women of color who are most likely to be paid poverty wages.”
The law restricts local governments from regulating employment practices.