RALEIGH: McCrory says he has tried to meet with protesters - WSPA.com

McCrory says he has tried to meet with protesters

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Gov. Pat McCrory Gov. Pat McCrory
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Gov. Pat McCrory said Tuesday he has been willing to meet with people from the "Moral Monday" rallies, several of whom staged a sit-in at his office a day earlier, but noted they have previously refused his invitations to talk.

The protesters have staged weekly rallies in Raleigh, opposing Republican policies within state government. On Monday, 11 demonstrators refused to leave the old Capitol building when they couldn't give a letter to McCrory personally. The letter voiced their opposition to fracking, a process of extracting oil and gas from rock, and called for an expansion of Medicaid.

Police cited the protesters for trespassing about two hours later, but they weren't arrested.

Talking to reporters after the monthly Council of State meeting, the governor said he has had meetings with ministers and invited "Moral Monday" representatives, including North Carolina NAACP leader the Rev. William Barber, but that he never showed up. McCrory's office said he had a luncheon with several clergy members May 15.

McCrory said chief of staff Thomas Stith personally invited Barber to McCrory's office. But Barber released a statement a few weeks ago saying he never refused to meet with McCrory, and had asked for a public policy discussion for some time.

"They sent out a press release denying that which kind of surprised us, but we've had some good meetings with people interested in these topics," McCrory said.

Barber disputed the governor's comments and said in a statement Tuesday that "neither the governor nor his office has ever responded to our serious requests for a substantive policy meeting to discuss the repeal of these destructive laws."

Barber said last month he had been called by the governor's office to attend a possible lunch, but also asked to bring other clergy members from the "Moral Monday" rallies. He said he never heard back from the governor's office about a finalized lunch date.

Barber said he, along with the Republican mayor of Belhaven, N.C., Adam O'Neal, recently requested to meet with McCrory about saving a rural hospital there. Barber said they have yet to receive a response.

Fourteen demonstrators were arrested last week when they refused to leave the office of House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg. The protests, which led to several hundred arrests last year, resumed with last month's opening of the General Assembly's session.

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