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NC GOP Leaders Say Cooper Response To Protests Is 'Failure' And 'Unacceptable'


North Carolina Republican House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger harshly criticized Monday Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's response to the sometimes-violent protests over the death of George Floyd.

Moore, who is from Kings Mountain, said Cooper should fully mobilize the National Guard and deploy soldiers in Charlotte, Raleigh and other cities. He also said Cooper should issue curfews for cities that have been impacted by violence.

"Where we know there’s been unrest, the governor needs to step up and do the right thing and call for those curfews," Moore said. "We have so many resources, we have so many resources that for two nights were unused that were on the sidelines. That is unacceptable."

Moore said people have the right to protest Floyd's death in a peaceful way.

Issuing curfews has historically been left to cities and towns, but Moore said the governor has the authority to do so. Cooper has had extensive powers during the COVID-19 pandemic and has issued stay-at-home orders and limits on the size of gatherings.

There have been protests in Charlotte for the last three nights. They have been mostly peaceful, but have turned violent at night. 

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they arrested 15 people Sunday night, including one person for hitting an officer with a rock.

Most of Sunday's protests were peaceful. But on Sunday night CMPD tweeted that "protestors continue to escalate violence despite several orders to disperse. Officers have deployed riot control agents to disperse the crowds and protect lives."

The city of Charlotte has no plans to enact a curfew Monday night, and a spokesperson for Mayor Vi Lyles said CMPD has no plans to activate the National Guard after three nights of protests that have turned violent late.

Four years ago, the city asked the National Guard to help CMPD on the third night of the Keith Lamont Scott protests in uptown Charlotte.

Berger, a Republican from Rockingham County, also criticized Cooper Monday over the violence in Raleigh, which was more severe than what Charlotte faced.

"Last night, North Carolina's capital city sustained widespread damage from hordes of rioters who set fire to the street and destroyed businesses – again," Berger said in a statement. "The destruction represents a failure of executive leadership at every level. Only a fool would think that permitting lawlessness on night one would result in different behavior on night two."

North Carolina is one of 15 states that has activated the National Guard.

Steve Harrison is WFAE's politics and government reporter. Prior to joining WFAE, Steve worked at the Charlotte Observer, where he started on the business desk, then covered politics extensively as the Observer’s lead city government reporter. Steve also spent 10 years with the Miami Herald. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated.