Some members of the anti-House Bill 2 group were set to put down their horns and go inside the Governor's Mansion for a garden party reception against the controversial law. But two hours before the event, the Governor's Office pulled the plug. The party was canceled.
So, while the band played on against HB2 for the 14th straight week, tensions between demonstrators and Gov. Pat McCrory grew even deeper.
"The governor is a coward," yelled one demonstrator at an impromptu news conference called by Progress NC outside the Executive Mansion.
The liberal public policy group wanted to take advantage of Executive Mansion rules that allow groups to rent space at the mansion for private events.
"We had a contract. We offered to pay in full, upfront and before the event," said Progress NC's Gerrick Brenner.
After signing a contract with the Governor's Office, Progress NC planned a reception of like-minded anti HB2 guests inside the home of the man who has become the face of the controversial law.
The party was scheduled for 6 p.m. But, at 4 p.m., the Governor's Office called, saying the party would be canceled.
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"Well, the real coward is Progress NC for breaking their contract," said NC GOP spokesperson Kami Mueller.
The Governor's Office says Progress NC violated terms of the deal; citing a Facebook post from Air Horn Orchestra organizers advertising the event.
Anti-HB2 air horn orchestra goes on, despite group's plans for garden party inside the Gov's Mansion being canceled pic.twitter.com/LavIOv7jhq— Joel Brown (@JoelBrownABC11) July 13, 2016
"It became clear this afternoon that Progress NC had reserved the Executive Mansion for a coordinated political protest instead of the event it has discussed with staff and agreed upon in its contract," McCrory Press Secretary Graham Wilson said in a statement.
"Here we stand once again with an attempt to be silenced and shut out of our own spaces," said anti HB2 State Rep. Chris Sgro.
Progress NC charged McCrory with cancelling an event by a group he disagreed with. State Republicans pushed back.
"Governor McCrory had nothing to do with this. It's the state of North Carolina," Mueller said. "Progress NC broke their contract with the state of North Carolina by egregiously exceeding the allotted amount of people per their contract."
"(The Governor's Office) contacted us and told us our guest list of 230 people had to be pared down to 50 people within a few hours and we did that," Brenner countered.
Progress NC insisted there's a double-standard at play. It cited the Governor's Office claim, last month, that it has never declined a non-profit organization's request for a private reception at the mansion.
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