GOP lawmakers pass Anti-Rioting Bill

Riot Police
@ [saksuvan] / Adobe Stock

By Cash Michaels

September 13, 2021 12:55PM
Cash Michaels
Cash Michaels

The North Carolina Republican legislative agenda is quickly mirroring the national Republican Party legislative agenda.

Last week, North Carolina joined at least 19 other states that either have passed anti-Critical Race Theory laws or are debating them.

North Carolina has also joined a plethora of states that have ratified restrictive “election integrity” laws, in reaction to false accusations about the November 2020 elections.

Now the state General Assembly has adopted House Bill 805 - the Anti-Rioting Act, a measure that at least one African American Democratic lawmaker alleged had strong racial overtones, while other Democratic legislators maintain limit freedom of speech.

At press time Monday, Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, was expected to veto the measure. The progressive/nonprofit NC Justice Center asked its supporters to contact Gov. Cooper and tell him to veto the “anti-protest, anti-Black Lives Matter” legislation.

“While HB805 was originally purported to be a bill combatting “riots,” lawmakers have become increasingly explicit in saying it is a direct response to last summer’s protests and calls for racial justice and police accountability. The bill is a clear attempt to suppress free speech and the right to assemble,” the Justice Center said.

“It also leaves the definition of a “riot” intentionally vague, thus granting police and prosecutors immense power to target Black, brown, and indigenous communities. By standing up for racial justice, those communities will be most hurt by the subjective legislation.”

The Justice Center continued, “This legislation is exactly what it appears to be: part of a divisive and transparent attempt to divide communities and criminalize standing up for racial justice.”

But during debate last week, House Republicans disagreed.

Republican House Speaker Tim Moore (Cleveland County) argued, “We saw firsthand what happens when folks join in what was otherwise a lawful protest and engage in destruction of property, assaults, and injury to people. That’s not protesting at that point. That’s rioting. That’s looting.”

The measure passed 63-41on Tuesday, August 31st.

Gov. Cooper is given up to ten days to decide whether he will sign or veto the bill. If he does nothing, it becomes law.

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