Outraged North Carolinians Pull Together Protest of NCGA Veto Overrides, 8/4/18

Citizen outrage sparked creativity at a protest of the latest day of this special session series, when the #NCGA was called to return on a rare Saturday to override very valid vetoes from Governor Roy Cooper. The signature costume for this event was a man dressed up in regal attire who called himself “Berger King.” The legislature voted to override the two vetoes, but the outraged citizens were speaking out and watching. First article, “Facing protesters, NC legislators override vetoes” was posted at 12:24pm on 8/4/18.

Many of the protesters were returning, since they had protested one or more days of the hastily called #DeceptionSession that started on Jul 24, 2018 with fewer than 24 hours notice. Protesters went today on short notice again as the outrage grew over the last few days. The Aug 4 session agenda included vetoes of last minute legislation intended to deceive citizens into voting away their rights in one of the bills. 

Signs included:
Lawmakers Shouldn’t Be Cheaters.
North Carolinians Want Independence from Berger King!
Tell Berger King to Stop the Dirty Tricks!
Fair Courts NOW!
No Moore Dirty Tricks
No Moore Attacks on the Supreme Court Race
Stop undermining fair elections
Stop trying to control the judiciary
Berger King – Have It MY Way!
Screw The People, I Make The Rules!
This Berger Is OverDone. Time to Flip Him!

What Are You Trying To Hide?
How Dare You!
Tell Us What We’re Voting For – No Pig In A Poke!
Protect Our NC Constitution – Vote Against Every Amendment!
Just Say No. Don’t Override The Veto.

Details Please. No Blank Checks.

Photo Credit: Aylett Colston

One of our chants pointed out that the current GOP supermajority in the state legislature was elected through gerrymandered districts that have since been ruled unconstitutional. Another chant we made on the fly.

“We don’t want a pig in a poke. Don’t make democracy into a joke.”

As NC NOW’s Robin Davis wrote in NC NOW’s Short Session Wrap-Up Legislative Update, “The North Carolina state constitution isn’t broke and it doesn’t need fixing in the first place. Even so, this fall we will be asked to vote on six proposed amendments to the state constitution. All are designed to energize the Republican base in a year when that party is expected to suffer some losses. They also serve other purposes, including radical power grabs by the legislature at the expense of the governor, amendments to protect laws that the courts have ruled unconstitutional, and amendments addressing cultural matters or designed to lock in the present Republican agenda for future generations.”

Not only did the NCGA leaders make these unnecessary and some very dangerous Constitutional Amendments, they called a special session with less than 24 hours notice to change the rules on setting captions because they apparently feared honest and helpful captions. There is already a commission to set the captions on the constitutional amendments. One bill takes away the job of that commission and gives it to legislative leaders. But it is not the legislative leaders’ job to have. To solve the problem of pesky informative captions, leading lawmakers decided the captions should say “Constitutional Amendment”! All 6 of them. That is all! Lawmakers should leave the veto.

The second bill manipulates the NC Supreme Court election and other judicial elections yet again. These are elections the #NCGA already interfered with by making all judicial races partisan races and by eliminating primary elections in them. There was also a new law passed, mid-campaign, to put candidate Anita Earls last on the ballot. The latest bill targets a candidate in the same NC Supreme Court race, by removing the partisan tag off a third candidate in this race and only him. Lawmakers should vote against this election interference by letting Governor Cooper’s vetoes stand.

The targetted judicial candidate in this judicial race was present at the Legislative Building as well, and said in an interview that he plans to file suit on Monday, 8/6/18. People say that the reason for the rare Saturday override session was to further limit time for the expected lawsuit or lawsuits to go forward.

Aylett Colston takes on Berger King! Photo Credit: Aylett Colston

As serious as this legislative interference into the election is, protesters still found time to makes points with humor. Writer Scott Huler dressed as “Berger King held a sign that said “Screw the people, I make the rules,” When the crowd chanted, Huler interjected with comments that would come from a very clueless ruler, and really played the part with panache. In a serious moment, Huler pointed out that Republicans only have as much power as they do in the General Assembly because of gerrymandering and shameless power grabs. 

Seriously Outraged North Carolinians Protest NCGA Tricks Photo Credit: Aylett Colston

“There’s no limit to these people, and that’s why I’m dressed as a king,” Huler said. “Once upon a time in America, we opposed kings.”

Both Republicans and Democrats have spoken out against the constitutional amendments. The former attorney of NC’s former governor (Pat McCrory) wrote a special op-ed for the Charlotte Observer about how “destructive a particular amendment is. Although the amendment summary leaves out information and makes the amendment look “innocuous,” it is not. Bob Stephens wrote, “it would cause a seismic shift in power in our state government – one of the biggest shifts since the Civil War and possibly one of the most destructive. It would change the way laws are enforced in North Carolina and who would enforce them.”

Protesters agree with Governor Cooper about misplaced priorities of legislative leadership. Cooper was quoted in the News and Observer article as saying, 

“It is shameful that legislators have spent their time deceiving North Carolinians and attempting to rip up our constitution instead of improving public education and growing our economy.”

WRAL Bureau Chief Laura Leslie interviews organizer Aylett Colston

Subset of the protesters.

Then we went in to the Legislative Building and through security. The NC House started first – so many people were outside the gallery window with signs. Then we went to the Senate Gallery with our signs. Then back to the House. Then back to the Senate.

In this News and Observer article from 8/4/18, “Facing protesters, NC legislators override vetoes” writer Scott Huler, dressed as Berger King says, “There’s no limit to these people, and that’s why I’m dressed as a king.” “Once upon a time in America, we opposed kings.”

This coverage shows comments from both sides at NCGA, protesters chanting, and Judicial Candidate Chris Anglin speaking out about his plans to sue after latest legislative attack on him in the NC Supreme Court race. See “NC General Assembly overrides 2 Cooper vetoes,” 8/4/18, CBS-17.

Excellent news! Current action on one of three lawsuits after the Saturday session. Party switch angered GOP leaders – well too bad. “Judge prevents finalizing North Carolina ballots for now,” 8/6/18, ABC-11.

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