Statement on Anti-Protest Legislation in North Carolina General Assembly

The Bradley for Raleigh Workers Campaign collective calls on all citizens and legislators in North Carolina to resist the passage of several anti-protest bills in the North Carolina General Assembly. The following bills, HB 805, SB 335, SB 300, HB 321, HB 333, and SB 238 are pitched as anti-riot bills, but will effectively hurt free speech. Historically, these laws have been used disproportionately against protests led by BIPOC folks and other generally left wing people or groups. The police have historically tended not to interfere with right wing and white supremacist protests, while violently attacking other protests. The substance of the bills is as follows:

House Bill 805

Increases the penalty for “inciting a riot” from a misdemeanor to a felony. It also increases fines on folks convicted.

Sponsors: Moore; McNeill; Miller; Sauls (Primary); Adams; Arp; Blackwell; Bradford; Carter; Clampitt; Faircloth; Goodwin; Greene; K. Hall; Hastings; Humphrey; Iler; Kidwell; McElraft; Moss; Pickett; Riddell; Rogers; Sasser; Setzer; C. Smith; Strickland; Tyson; Warren; Winslow; Zenger

Senate Bill 335

Expands the charge of disorderly conduct to include disturbing the peace or order of a public meeting. It sets the penalty to a Class 1 misdemeanor for the first offense, a Class 1 felony for the second offense, and a Class H felony (with up to 31 months in jail) for the third.

Sponsors: Galey; Daniel; Lazzara (Primary); Harrington; Jarvis; Johnson; Sanderson

Senate Bill 300

Increases the penalty for engaging in a “riot” and makes it a Class G felony for anyone deemed to be participating in a “riot”.

Sponsors: Galey; Daniel; Lazzara (Primary)Harrington; Jarvis; Johnson; Sanderson

House Bill 321

Imposes penalties on public officials that try to “stand down” police actions against protestors. It effectively makes the police more powerful than the elected government.

Sponsors: Pittman; Brody; Kidwell (Primary); Brisson; Cleveland; Goodwin

House Bill 333

Automatically expels and ends financial aid for any college student convicted of certain actions during a protest (writing on walls of public buildings, statues, or any public or private property on campus).

Sponsors: Torbett (Primary); Adams; K. Baker; Carter; Clampitt; Cleveland; Faircloth; Goodwin; Greene; Humphrey; Hurley; Johnson; Kidwell; McNeely; McNeill; Moffitt; Moss; Penny; Pittman; Riddell; Sasser; C. Smith; Stevens; Strickland; Tyson; Willis

Senate Bill 238

Purports to transfer to “a mayor, chief executive officer, governing body, board, commission, committee, or department of a municipality, county, or other political subdivision of the State”, legal liability for the destruction of property or loss of income due to supposed interference with law enforcement during protests. The mechanism of enforcement is vague, but the intent of the bill is clearly to allow police and sheriffs to respond to perceived threats from demonstrators without listening to city or county civilian authority. This is a step toward creating police forces that are not required to be responsive to civilian rule.

Sponsors: Johnson; McInnis; Craven (Primary); Britt; Jarvis; Proctor

We urge all citizens of North Carolina to contact your representatives and oppose these bills which will effectively chill the right to free speech and the right to protest in our state. Find your representatives here: https://www.ncleg.gov/FindYourLegislators