Governor Cooper was the audience for a special, one-off performance of the Air Horn Orchestra, the group that so annoyed former governor Pat McCrory for eight months last year, after McCrory signed HB 2.
Yesterday, Cooper signed a repeal of HB 2 that critics—including at the INDY—have derided as not much of a repeal at all. And so the AHO was back in action.
By six p.m. Thursday, the crew had assembled in front of the Executive Mansion in Raleigh, permit in hand, featuring more than just air horns: saxophones, drums, megaphones, and a shofar created a melodious “welcome home” for the governor. The concert lasted for about an hour, with about three dozen demonstrators expressing their disapproval of Cooper’s decision to sign HB 142.
“We supported Governor Cooper in many ways—but at least in some large part of his promise of advocating for a full repeal of HB2,” said ringleader (and former INDY managing editor) Grayson Haver Currin. “We know that he is not in a position to enact a full repeal by himself, but he is not obligated to help broker a deal that I think is, in many ways, a light version of HB 2, and he’s certainly not obligated to sign it.”
Angela Bridgman, a transgender woman and business owner, thinks it’s no coincidence that HB 142’s forty-four-month moratorium on new local nondiscrimination ordinances won’t be lifted until December 2020, after the next governor’s election. She believes Cooper should have vetoed the bill.
“He’s looked me in the face and told me that basketball and economics are more important than my rights,” Bridgman said. “The bathroom issue is an allegory for all the garbage that we transgender people put up with in society. This is all about getting rid of the stigma on our state.”
“I don’t think civil rights are a point of compromise, and they shouldn’t be. And we’re deeply disappointed that they are,” Currin added. “If the only leadership [Cooper] can provide is to stand up and say, ‘This is not right, I’m not going to sign it.’ I know that not signing it doesn’t do a lot—we’ll take that. We’ll take a leader who’s principled and takes a stand where it matters when it comes down to people’s actual civil rights and their liberties.”
As the music died down, the crowd began to chant, “Only full repeal of HB 2! Only full repeal of HB 2!” As the chanting subsided, Angela Bridgman grabbed the megaphone and aimed it directly at the Executive Mansion: “Hey, ROY! I trusted you! You let me down! Can you look me in the eye? I am a transgender citizen of this state! I am a law-abiding, taxpaying, business-owning transgender citizen of this state! And you let me down! You failed me!”
In case you missed them, here’s some video of the AHO doing their thing:
And more pics from the afternoon: