NAACP to seek economic boycott to protest lawmakers' actions

Posted December 22, 2016
Updated December 23, 2016

— The state NAACP will ask the national leaders of the civil rights group next month for a nationwide economic boycott of North Carolina to protest the actions of the General Assembly, state NAACP President Rev. William Barber said Thursday.

"This legislature is trying to raise a new Confederacy in policy," Barber said at a news conference. "This group doesn't respect the Constitution. They do not respect the voices of the people. They do not respect the will of the people. They do not respect the vote, and it seems in some ways they do not respect just a little bit of money being removed from the state."

Barber said the state NAACP takes issue with more than the legislature's failure Wednesday to repeal House Bill 2, which he called "an anti-worker, anti-civil rights, anti-LGBT bill" because it prevents cities and counties from raising the minimum wage or enacting anti-discrimination protections. That was merely the final straw, he said, noting Republican lawmakers last week stripped incoming Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of various powers and set up partisan elections for the state's highest court.

"They're cheating to hold on to power," he said. "Enough is enough."

North Carolina voters elected Cooper with the idea that he would be able to exercise certain powers, Barber said. By limiting those powers, lawmakers are infringing on voters' rights, he said.

NAACP lawyers also are reviewing recent legislation for possible court challenges, and the organization is planning a major march downtown dedicated to "resisting our legislature and its continuing constitutional overreach," Barber said.

"We are going to fight them in the courts. We are going to fight them in the streets. We're going to fight them at the ballot box, and now we’re going to ask permission to fight them with money at the cash register," he said. "If we don’t stop them here, it has the potential to spread across the nation."

Cooper said he opposes a boycott, saying he wants to attract business to North Carolina, not push it away.

"I share the frustrations people have with the Republican legislative leadership because their policies hurt working North Carolinians, but I disagree with an economic boycott," he said. "I want people and companies to come to North Carolina and join us in the fight for fairness."

House Speaker Tim Moore didn't respond to a request for comment on the potential boycott, while Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger issued a statement again blaming Cooper for the failed attempt to repeal House Bill 2.

The NAACP staged a national boycott of South Carolina for 15 years until the state removed the Confederate flag from its statehouse grounds last year. During that time, the NCAA and other groups honored the boycott by refusing to hold events in the state.

The NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference have already pulled more than a dozen athletic tournaments out of North Carolina because of House Bill 2. The state law also has prompted organizations to cancel conventions, entertainers to drop tour dates in the state and some businesses to scrap plans to expand operations here.

Businesses fear boycott, HB2 fallout

Area business owners were anticipating a repeal of House Bill 2, saying the law has cost them customers and made North Carolina an object of national scorn. Instead, they said, they now have to face the double-whammy of House Bill 2 remaining on the books and an NAACP boycott.

"I think people should not boycott us for something that is out of our control," said Debbie Holt, owner of Clyde Cooper's Barbecue in downtown Raleigh. "If you want to boycott people, look at the pecking order at the legislature."

Holt was among many in the business community disappointed by the failed vote in the Senate to repeal the law, which has cost the state at least $500 million in lost revenue and hundreds of jobs.

"They need to repeal it because what they've done is tarnish our name," she said.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates the city has lost $9 million from 24 canceled meetings, conventions and sporting events, including regional games in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, because of House Bill 2. Another $30 million is at risk from the potential loss of NCAA events over the next four years.

"There's been a lot of talk about this bill and a lot of concerns, and it's really having a negative impact on our image and brand," CVB President Dennis Edwards said. "We continue to hear from meeting planners, sports event organizers. They're very concerned. Many of them will not come to the state until the bill is repealed."

Officials with the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance said they hope Roy Cooper and lawmakers can find a way to work together in the coming year to repeal the law.

"This legislation is a threat to our mission as an organization devoted to growing our region’s economy," Chamber President and Chief Executive Tim Giuliani said in a statement. "A commitment to inclusion and equality makes our area a top place to visit, live, work and do business, and a welcoming environment for all is essential for growing our economy."

Edwards said the 24,000 people who work in Raleigh's hospitality industry stand to lose the most if convention organizers, concert promoters and others continue to boycott the state because of House Bill 2 and an NAACP action.

"There's a lot of employees in these arenas and these amphitheaters that really rely on these paychecks," he said. "We're going to unfortunately feel the impact of this bill for many years to come."


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  • John Lobenstein Mar 2, 12:35 a.m.
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    Is Rev. Barber a sexists? He only calls for boycotts.

  • John Lobenstein Mar 2, 12:30 a.m.
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    Sure shut down the state's economy. Who will be hurt first and the worst?

  • Carrie Hurrelbrink Dec 27, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    You are exactly right

  • Carrie Hurrelbrink Dec 27, 2016
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    naacp is a joke! They need to stop sticking their noses where they don't belong. I am sick of them.

  • Byrd Ferguson Dec 27, 2016
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    WRAL have you put Barber on your payroll- it sure seems that way doesn't it.

  • Charlie Watkins Dec 25, 2016
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    The most effective boycott would be to leave the state.

  • Colin Burch III Dec 24, 2016
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    So 16 Democratic state senators, all that voted, voted against repeal. Of 32 Republican state senators that voted, 16 voted for repeal and 16 against repeal. The Democrats were the deciders and everyone seems to want to blame Republicans. This is Cooper et all trying to exploit a sensitive LGBT issue for political purposes. Actually HB-2 has not created any economic crisis for the state. NC is still growing and attracting jobs. Barber and company are just after the spotlight and don't care how many people they hurt as long as they get some attention. The post office benefits as all involved are sending out fund raising letters. What is really lacking is plain common sense.

  • James Jones Dec 24, 2016
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    WRAL have you put Barber on your payroll, he is on your news more than the news reporters. We know you fund Moral Monday and other events to cause social unrest with in the community.
    How can this man be called a rev. all the church's I have attended preach on compromise, love and consider others thoughts and feelings. Any law that doesn't meet his far left agendas his only defense that he consistently uses is the "race card", and this is getting old.

  • Linda Tally Dec 24, 2016
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    Whine and condemn and sermonize to your hearts' content, NC - until HB2 is repealed, and this petty "Charlotte didn't... " song and dance is finished, Barber isn't going anywhere or changing his tune one bit. I don't particularly care for him on a personal level, but I certainly back him on this issue. If you want economic sanctions to stop, use your keyboard to slap your legislature representatives and get them busy repealing. Otherwise, ... you're just blowing more hot air.

  • Gia Momoa Dec 23, 2016
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    Wow! Has this clown ever heard of gluttony. Let's play which leg will get cut off first.