Raleigh, N.C. — On Jan. 5, activists gathered in Raleigh to protest the inauguration of the new ultra-right-wing Republican governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, and to draw attention to his appointment of Art Pope as the state’s chief budget writer. Protesters referred to Pope as McCrory’s “Puppet Master” during a mock public ceremony swearing him in as North Carolina’s new “Shadow Governor and the state’s real chief executive.” The protest was organized by North Carolina Student Power Union, Progress NC, and NC AFL-CIO.
According to campaign finance reports, Pope, his family and family business donated nearly $600,000 to the Pat McCrory Committee, the Republican Party and other conservative political groups which helped elect Pat McCrory.
In addition, Pope-backed groups, including Americans for Prosperity, Civitas Action and Real Jobs NC, spent more than $1.4 million on 2012 campaigns in North Carolina — much of that on behalf of Pat McCrory. Pope’s return on his investment in McCrory is being able to use his new Shadow Governor’s position to wield power behind, in front of and all around the throne.
Pope, McCrory and the Republicans, who have a super-majority in both state chambers, have a very clear agenda: major budget cuts and austerity for all public services, further stripping of rights from public workers and further dismantling of public education and the general welfare of the state, which will be undermined to benefit the richest few.
Americans for Prosperity has already proposed making a constitutional amendment for “right-to-work” and denial of the right to collective bargaining for public sector workers, even though both are already state law. Also on the chopping block are the democratic rights to vote, women’s rights and much more.
After the mock swearing-in ceremony, protesters marched directly to the state Capitol building, where the inauguration was occurring, which was heavily guarded by the police and closed to the public.
Protesters formed a picket line in the driveway, chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, Art Pope has got to go!” and “Wake up, wake up, we want freedom, freedom! Tell that dirty Art Pope, we don’t need em, need em!” McCrory’s motorcade was forced to leave near the protesters. Many more actions will follow Pope and McCrory in the near future.