RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/CBS Charlotte) — North Carolina Republicans are pushing back harder against weekly protests as another group of demonstrators aligned with the state NAACP face police charges.
Many in the group of more than 80 arrested Monday at the Republican-controlled General Assembly were clergy, however, a Charlotte Observer reporter covering the protest was also arrested.
The newspaper confirmed that veteran religion reporter Tim Funk was detained while covering protests that led to the arrests of more than 80 people. Observer Managing Editor Cheryl Carpenter wrote in an email that Funk was wearing media identification and was there “solely to do his job as a news reporter.” She said it’s difficult to understand why he would have been detained.
General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver said Funk did not respond to a final warning to disperse that was issued before officers began arresting protesters at the Legislative Building.
“All of the press had moved back — everyone but him,” Weaver said. “We started arresting folks and he stayed in the midst of them and kept conducting interviews, so he was arrested as well.”
While Funk was released from jail late last night, Weaver said Funk will face the same charges as protesters, which include trespassing, failure to disperse and violating building rules.
Carpenter said The Observer, part of the McClatchy newspaper chain, has contacted its attorney.
“We believe that Tim had a right to be there and had a right to do his job in a public place, and we’ll absolutely defend him in any way we can,” she said.
There have been nearly 400 arrests since the NAACP began near-weekly protests of the Republican-controlled legislature’s policies earlier this spring.
Republican Gov. Pat McCrory and the party’s newly elected chairman have labeled the group outside agitators who don’t speak for a majority of North Carolinians. Republicans built on their 2010 legislative takeover with veto-proof majorities and a win in the governor’s race.
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