State GOP head calls out 'Moral Monday' tactics

September 17, 2013 3:36:32 PM PDT
The top man in the state Republican Party is taking aim at the NAACP and other groups on the left for using inflammatory language in recent weeks, and at the media for not reporting it that way.

N.C. GOP chairman Claude Pope is not happy with the tone at recent protests, or the media's coverage of them.

Monday, was the 50th anniversary of the Birmingham church bombing that killed four girls. Protesters carried coffins during the Moral Monday event to represent their deaths and the ongoing battle over civil rights.

It was too much for Pope.

"How in the world does one stretch a tragic event such as the Birmingham bombing, an event likely perpetrated by a Democrat into an open, vitriolic attack on our new Republican governor," said Pope. "That's quite a stretch."

In a quickly called news conference Tuesday, Pope took the NAACP and Democratic leadership to task for what he called outrageous, inflammatory rhetoric pushed largely by organizers he believes are not from North Carolina.

ABC11 asked Pope if he sees the protesters as outsiders.

"I see a lot of them as outsiders, of course I do," said Pope. "We see the AFL-CIO. We see labor unions from Pennsylvania -- the leadership of those unions doing the same thing.

Rob Schofield, who is part of the progressive nonprofit NC Policy Watch couldn't disagree more.

"It's clearly a North Carolina movement," said Schofield. "I've been at some of the meetings where some of the meetings are organized and I can assure Mr. Pope it's not people from New York or Washington that are calling the shots."

Pope says whoever they are they've gone too far recently.

"It is inflammatory," said Pope.

That accusation isn't limited to the left. We heard similar complaints after Tea Party protests including one were an organizer held up a mask representing President Obama, poured water on it, and then kicked it away.

About that, Pope had this to say.

"I think you're going to find some nuts on both sides," he said.

We asked N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber about Pope's comments. However, he wasn't biting. He only sent this statement by email: "He is not the governor. He is not a legislator. He hasn't voted on anything.  Our quarrel and critique is with those sworn to uphold the constitution and vote for the good of the whole."

As for Pope's reference to "nuts on both sides," ABC11 asked him directly if he was referring to Barber. He first said no, but when we pressed for clarification, he said, "I think if you look at those caskets, and the message they're saying, I think the message is pretty clear."

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