'Air horn' protesters call foul on HB2 after ACC's action

Joel Brown Image
Thursday, September 15, 2016
Air horn orchestra takes on a sports theme in latest protest
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The noisy protesters outside the Executive Mansion played up the loss of ACC title events in their HB2 fight.

DURHAM (WTVD) -- Durham tourism officials say the loss of the ACC Baseball Championship means a $5.2 million hit to the city.

But Wednesday's decision coupled with the NCAA's move to relocate its neutral-site championships, not to mention the loss of the NBA All-Star Game, are signals that HB2 is taking its toll on North Carolina's sports psyche.

In its 23rd consecutive week outside the governor's mansion, the so-called air horn orchestra took on the look of a rag-tag collegiate sports band. The theme was obvious. These anti-HB2 protesters seized on the news the ACC was pulling its championships out of the state.

Dressed up like a referee, Thor Dollar proclaimed he was calling a foul on HB2.

"I wish it didn't have to be such a cost to the state," Dollar said. "But, something's got to send a message to the governor and the NC GOP that what they're doing does not reflect our values and is hurting our state."

Gov. Pat McCrory did not back down from his defense of the law Wednesday.

Again, he called on critics to wait for the courts to decide on the controversial measure that restricts transgender bathroom access.


And Republican Speaker of the House Tim Moore issued a statement calling the NCAA's and now the ACC's decision, "very unfortunate."

Moore went on to say, "The truth remains that this law was never about and does not promote discrimination."

News & Observer sports columnist Luke DeCock said he believes the ACC felt it had no choice but to pull the games or risk being seen as supporting a law many feel is discriminatory.

"I think all these people are trying to send a message to the General Assembly that this needs to be changed, our people don't feel comfortable coming here," DeCock said.

It's not just an economic hit. It's a psychological blow, too.

"This is a state where the college athletic tradition runs so deep," DeCock said. "So when you start tampering with that and taking that away, it's not only an economic blow -- but it's a blow at really what makes North Carolina North Carolina."

The Durham Bulls Athletic Park will sit empty come next May. A new host city has not yet been selected for the ACC Baseball Championships.

Meantime, the Durham Visitor and Convention Bureau, which has already come out against HB2, is hoping lawmakers in Raleigh resolve the controversy, so DBAP can host the championships as scheduled in 2018.

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