Home » Bill raising riot penalties in North Carolina attacked as anti-Black Lives Matter

Bill raising riot penalties in North Carolina attacked as anti-Black Lives Matter

by The Grio

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A bill increasing punishments for violent protests following the 2020 demonstrations over George Floyd’s murder passed the North Carolina House on Wednesday despite harsh criticism from social justice advocates. Some bipartisan support signals a potential override of any veto by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, who issued one that blocked similar legislation two years ago.

Like the 2021 proposal, the new bill was spearheaded by Republican House Speaker Tim Moore, who has cited rioting and looting that he saw firsthand in downtown Raleigh in June 2020 amid otherwise peaceful protests as an impetus for the legislation.

The bill, which has one House Democrat as a chief sponsor, cleared the chamber 75-43 with six Democrats and all Republicans present voting yes. It now heads to the Senate.

Republican gains in both the House and Senate from elections this past November now give the GOP a veto-proof majority in the Senate and put it within one seat of a similar majority in the House.

State law already makes it a misdemeanor to willfully participate in a riot or incite one. It becomes a felony when serious injury or property damage incurred exceeds $1,500, with active prison time possible on a first offense. The punishments for these crimes would rise under the legislation, including a new felony crime when participating in a riot leads to a death.

The measure also allows property owners whose businesses are damaged in a riot to seek compensation against a perpetrator equal to three times the monetary damage. And new bond and pretrial release rules for rioting and looting defendants would have a judge set those conditions within 24 hours. Bill supporters have complained defendants can otherwise be released immediately by a magistrate.

Moore and other supporters insist they wholeheartedly support free speech and the First Amendment right to assemble to express grievances. But…

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