Dozens of people protesting the introduction of state legislation to weaken the powers of North Carolina's Democratic governor-elect descended upon the Republican-dominated state legislature Thursday.
Protesters shouted "Shame, shame, shame," according to ABC affiliate WTVD, and carried signs that read, "Protect Voting Rights," "The Nation is Watching, GOP," and "Say No To Power Grabs."
Sixteen people were arrested, according to WTVD. The arrests occurred when Speaker Tim Moore ordered the gallery cleared. Supporters in the rotunda chanted, "this is what democracy looks like," as the protesters were led out in plastic handcuffs.
It appeared that most of those arrested were released shortly afterwards, according to tweets by the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP.
Republicans had called a surprise session this week to pass several bills aimed at undercutting governor-elect Roy Cooper's powers before he takes office January 1.
On Thursday night, the House passed HB17. According to WTVD, the bill reduces the number of Cooper appointees to state government. It also requires Cooper's top agency heads to be approved by the Senate. And it strips Cooper of his power to appoint trustees to the boards of UNC System schools.
The bills need Gov. Pat McCrory's signature to become law. He has not commented publicly on the measures.
Senator Floyd McKissick, a Democrat, told The Associated Press, "It appears the sole purpose is to undercut the power and authority of Gov.-elect Roy Cooper before he takes the oath of office."
Protesters are slated to return Friday. The North Carolina chapter of the NAACP tweeted, "We're returning tomorrow at 10am. House session ended, they passed a handful of extreme bills but the worst is to come #RespectOurVote."
ABC News' Devin Villacis and Darren Reynolds contributed to this report.
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