Tillis: Rev. Barber should apologize

Posted May 25, 2011 11:54 a.m. EDT
Updated May 25, 2011 12:05 p.m. EDT

A day after state NAACP president Rev. William Barber and six supporters were arrested in the House gallery, Speaker Thom Tillis called on Barber to apologize for the demonstration that led to the charges.

Barber was at the legislature yesterday for an NAACP protest and rally against the GOP budget plan, currently in the Senate.  He and other activists say it doesn't adequately address the needs of children, low-income people, the disabled, and other vulnerable groups. 

Barber said yesterday he was arrested for asking Tillis to meet with him, a request he shouted from the upstairs gallery while others with him chanted slogans and bible verses.

Tillis pointed out today that he did meet with Barber and his supporters earlier this year, praying with them in his office when they came to speak with him about collective bargaining.

Tillis acknowledged today it was possible someone had requested a meeting he wasn’t able to accommodate. But he flatly denied that he had refused to meet with either Barber or the NAACP.

“I think I’ve got a pretty good track record of being accessible, and I don’t apologize for it," Tillis said. "But I do think Reverend Barber owes this House an apology for his disrespectful and disruptive behavior yesterday.”

Tillis also said he has no plans to meet with Barber in the near future. “As I understand it there’s a police investigation associated with what happened yesterday. Until that police investigation is complete, it would be inappropriate for me to meet with somebody who’s the subject of a police investigation, I would think.” 

But Tillis said he’s willing to meet with others from the NAACP, a group that he says “transcends any of its leaders.” 

“Anybody who represents the NAACP who wants to have a respectful conversation, a productive conversation, I’m happy to meet with them,” Tillis said.

 Watch his unedited comments at right.