RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina state government police arrested 15 people who refused to leave the reception area of Gov. Roy Cooper’s office while expressing opposition to a multistate natural gas pipeline for which his administration issued a key permit last week.

The demonstrators held a nonviolent sit-in for several hours Friday before officers led them away without the use of handcuffs when they refused to leave the Administration Building after its public closing. State Capitol Police Chief Glen Allen said those arrested were charged with second-degree trespassing, cited and released with an April 2 court date.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline would bring fracked natural gas from West Virginia into the Southeast.

Protester Greg Yost says Cooper’s staff spoke with them earlier Friday. Yost says the demonstration was designed to express unhappiness with Cooper and signal the pipeline struggle would soon expand to actual construction.

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