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Protesters return to Capitol lawn to play catch

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Protesters returned to the Capitol grounds Thursday, this time to play catch on the lawn and send a message to the governor. Protesters returned to the Capitol grounds Thursday, this time to play catch on the lawn and send a message to the governor.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

Protesters returned to the Capitol grounds Thursday, this time to play catch on the lawn and send a message to the governor.

Three days after liberal advocacy group Progress NC distributed a photo of Gov. Pat McCrory playing catch outside the Capitol Building, protesters returned to the Capitol grounds to play catch themselves.

After about 30 minutes, the group left its baseballs -- which each had messages scribed on them -- on the steps of the Capitol for the governor.

Students, parents, teachers and advocates were set to deliver more than 16,000 petition signatures to McCrory's office at the State Capitol Monday afternoon, but the governor's staff said he was in a meeting and could not meet with them.

Progress NC, however, says McCrory was caught "with a baseball glove, playing catch with Chief of Staff Thomas Stith and a state trooper" at 4:30 p.m. when the children were delivering the petitions.

In support of their claim, Progress NC circulated a photo of McCrory playing catch. According to EXIF data extracted from the photo, the image of McCrory playing catch was captured using an iPhone 5 on Monday at 4:42 p.m.

Progress NC also circulated video purportedly showing the petitions being delivered to McCrory's office. Meta data extracted from Progress NC's video indicates the video was shot with an iPhone 5 on Monday at 4:31 p.m.

"McCrory's staff told the children and their parents delivering petitions that Gov. McCrory was in a meeting until 5 p.m.," said Gerrick Brenner, with Progress NC. "What he was really doing was avoiding those children, because he can't defend his proposed cuts to teacher assistants and he won't stand up to a state legislature hellbent on raising class size and spending taxpayer dollars on private school vouchers."

McCrory's office contests that the governor was indeed in a meeting and that a photo of McCrory playing catch was shot after the petitions were delivered.

"Gov. McCrory was in a meeting with an elected representative when computer-driven petitions collected by Progress NC ...  [were dropped off] around 4:20 p.m.," said Kim Genardo, McCrory's communications director.

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