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NAACP field director, 2 others cited at State Capitol

Second update: State Capitol Police report the following people were charged with second-degree trespassing after refusing to leave the Capitol building for nearly two hours after it closed Wednesday: Robert Thompson Stephens, 26, of Chapel Hill; Joshua Rahim Vincent, 23, of Raleigh; and Hudson Laney Vaughan, 27, of Carrboro. Each was issued summons to appear in court and released on their own recognizance.

The three were cited during a protest at the State Capitol on Wednesday evening. They include NAACP state field secretary Stephens. The trio made it clear they expected to be taken into custody, locking arms, singing spirituals and refusing to leave the building after it closed.

It was the culmination of an hour-long event organized by the NAACP in which about 30 young people went to the Capitol to present the governor with a list of pledges they want him to sign.

State Capitol Police chief's firing upheld

UPDATED:State Capitol Police acting Chief Tony Asion should never have allowed his subordinates to work off-duty at a crime-plagued Raleigh nightclub, according to a letter released Wednesday by Department of Public Safety Secretary Kieran Shanahan upholding Asion’s firing.

Shanahan’s letter says Asion should have steered clear of Club B.E.D. because it had a bad reputation: Both the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and the Raleigh Police Department refused to allow their officers to work off-duty there because it was “too dangerous.”

New law enforcement leaders named

Five new officials who will lead state law enforcement agencies were announced and sworn in at a ceremony in the State Capitol on Thursday.

Col. William J. Grey, 52, of Cary is the new commander of the State Highway Patrol. He has been with the patrol since 1991.

Gregory K. Baker, 49, of Raleigh will be the new director of the state Alcohol Law Enforcement. He is currently an FBI agent and has been assigned to the Triangle since 2008.

Glen B. Allen, 54, of Clayton will be the new chief of the State Capitol Police. Allen is currently the police chief in Clayton.

Morning Memo: Florida GOP governor takes N.C. Democrats approach

FLORIDA GOP GOV -- AN OBAMACARE HATER -- TAKES THE REP. INSKO APPROACH: That's right. Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who first entered politics to fight the federal health care law, is proposing to take the money for Medicaid expansion for the first three years when Washington will pay the full cost. State Rep. Verla Insko, a Chapel Hill Democrat, proposed the same thing in North Carolina, but Republican lawmakers shot it down repeatedly. "That's just completely nonsensical and doesn't work," Republican Rep. Nelson Dollar said of Inkso's idea.

TODAY AT THE STATEHOUSE: The House is taking it easy today. A skeletal session with no recorded votes -- none until Tuesday, in fact. The Senate will convene for action at noon. But most the action will take place in the Commerce Committee where the bill to speed up and incentivize fracking with get a hearing. Gov. Pat McCrory lists no public events on his schedule. He leaves this evening for Washington to attend the National Governors Association and Republican Governors Association winter meetings. Wonder if McCrory will talk to Scott and Ohio Gov. John Kasich about how their recent decisions to expand Medicaid?

***Good morning. Thanks for reading the Dome Morning Memo -- more N.C. political news below.***

Two State Capitol Police officers suspended

The State Capitol Police acting chief Antonio Asion and Sgt. Benjamin Franklin have been suspended in an investigation involving off-duty work.

The state Department of Public Safety made the announcement Sunday evening. Rumors of the suspensions had begun to surface Saturday.

"I have serious concerns about certain practices involving secondary employment," DPS Secretary Kieran Shanahan said in the statement his office released. "We will conduct a thorough investigation and take action as deemed appropriate."

A Capitol whodunit

In a crime committed waaaay under the dome, someone stole 60 feet of copper pipe from a State Capitol steam tunnel, according to a State Capitol Police report.

(Is anyone safe from copper theft? )

According to the police report, the pipe had a $900 value.

The person or persons did not rip the pipe out of any piece of machinery, said Ernie Seneca, a spokesman for the state Department of Crime Control and Public Safety. It was going to be used to replace some existing pipe.

No one has been charged.

"It's still under investigation at this time," Seneca said.

The theft was discovered on Nov. 28 and reported Dec. 8. No explanation yet for the time lag.

State Capitol Police deputy chief drives into pedestrian

Oops. The deputy chief of the State Capitol Police drove her squad car into a pedestrian in downtown Raleigh crosswalk on Veteran’s Day last month.

Deputy Chief Lenora Mitchell was making a left turn from Edenton Street onto Blount Street when the Chrysler sedan struck the man, Neil Rozier of Raleigh, who had the “walk” sign, according to a Raleigh Police Department report.  Rozier, 66, was taken to WakeMed, treated and released.

Mitchell, 50, was cited for failing to yield and given a January court date.

Chief Scott Hunter said today that even though it was a state holiday, Mitchell was assigned to work and was authorized to drive the police car at the time. Hunter said he couldn’t discuss personnel details, but indicated Mitchell had not been suspended. He said he “took the appropriate action” and the matter was closed.

Police to Occupiers: Move your stuff

Occupy Wall Street arrestState Capitol Police arrest Margaret Schucker of Raleigh, one of eight people arrested from the Occupy Raleigh movement, on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, at the State Capital grounds in Raleigh. Photo by Robert Willett - rwillett@newsobserver.com

Police arrested at least eight people involved in the Occupy Raleigh demonstration after they refused to leave a sidewalk in front of the State Capitol this afternoon.

State Capitol Police told a dozen or so Occupy Raleigh demonstrators that they had until 3 p.m. to move all their camp chairs, tables, and coolers off the sidewalk.

But the conflict came when police asked a woman who was sitting in a chair on the sidewalk to move. The woman, Margaret Schucker of Raleigh, said she had back problems and needed the chair to participate in the Occupy Raleigh demonstration. When police moved to arrest her, other demonstrators joined her and were arrested, too.

Demonstrators in sympathy with Occupy Wall Street in New York have maintained a presence outside the old State Capitol since Oct. 15. They were sitting along a fence on Morgan Street that separates the sidewalk from the Capitol grounds.

The fence was festooned with posters and blankets. Police said told demonstrators to move those fence hangings, too.

The state Department of Administration said in a statement that it asked police to have occupiers remove their property and signs, but that the people were not being asked to leave.

Boxes, chairs and other items made it difficult for others to use the sidewalk, the statement said.

Bomb threat at Department of Justice

An anonymous phone call threatening a bomb at the Department of Justice led State Capitol Police to evacuate 400 employees from the building this morning.

The threat was called in to the building at the corner of Edenton and Salisbury streets at 10 a.m., said Chief Scott Hunter of the State Capitol Police Department.

Officers with bomb sniffing dogs and the State Bureau of Investigation's Hazardous Devices Unit searched the building floor by floor, reports Benjamin Niolet.

"We have not found anything out of the ordinary," Hunter said, adding that the threat included no specifics other than a statement that the bomb was in the building.

Hunter said he expected the building to reopen around 1 p.m. Most employees appeared to have scattered for lunch.

The building houses the office of Attorney General of Roy Cooper, who oversees the SBI, which has been under scrutiny for agent misconduct in forensic work for criminal investigations.

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