Protesters' chase of McCrory blurs lines of free speech

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A viral video posted Saturday in D.C. showed a crowd following former NC Gov. Pat McCrory and hurling insults.

When Pat McCrory moved out of the governor's mansion this month, he also had to give up his security detail. But after McCrory's wild run-in with protesters in Washington, at least one state lawmaker wants McCrory to get his security back.

"Shame on you! Shame on you!" they shouted at the former North Carolina governor in a video of the incident posted on Facebook.

The group of people on a Washington street confronted McCrory, who was visiting for inaugural weekend.

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The group was presumably angry over McCrory's support for House Bill 2.

"Shame on you, you anti-gay bigot! You're a bigot," they can be heard shouting.

The former governor tries to escape -- quickly turning down an alley. The tense encounter continues, "You're not a man, you're a coward!"

The crowd followed McCrory -- who was joined by Fox Business host Lou Dobbs -- but the door they wanted to enter was locked. One man yelled, "We got you now!"


Police arrived soon and shooed away the crowd. But when Charlotte Republican Sen. Dan Bishop saw the video, he thought the encounter was borderline criminal.

"Of course people have freedom of speech for however indecent they want to act. But there were three things about this that struck me as distinctive," Bishop said. "One was the governor sought to leave and they pursued. The second thing was, he gets to a building and he's at locked doors and he's essentially trapped.

"And then about a minute into the tape, the ringleader says, 'we've got you now,' " Bishop added. "If you're in a reasonable fear for your safety -- that's crossing the line of assault."

There's already a state law on the books prohibiting threatening conduct toward sitting legislative and judicial officials. Bishop is proposing to expand the law -- adding security protections for former officials such as McCrory.

"(McCrory) felt sort of funny about it," Bishop said when asked if the governor felt threatened or endangered by the confrontation. "So when I saw it, I was upset by the video and I called him and we talked about the fact that he doesn't have any security available to him. He didn't ask for it."

In a statement to ABC11, the American Civil Liberties Union blasted Sen. Bishop's proposal.

"Everyone deserves protection from violence, but politicians who run for and serve in public office shouldn't get special treatment to shield them from criticism," said Sarah Gillooly with ALCU of NC. "Any attempt to criminalize peaceful political speech would violate the constitution and our country's proud tradition of free speech for all."

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