North Carolina among states introducing laws targeting peaceful protesters

Over the last year, more than 90 anti-protest bills have been introduced in at least 36 states, including in North Carolina. 

The wave of bills aimed at criminalizing our constitutional right to peaceably assemble, comes after a historic summer in which millions of us joined together to condemn the killing of Black people by the police and systemic racism plaguing our country.

In North Carolina, Republicans in the NCGA have introduced HB 330, SB 229 and HB 249 in the last few years, with one bill going so far as to create immunity for motorists who hit a protestor blocking traffic.

Just this week, House Speaker Tim Moore introduced HB 805, a bill that would stifle free speech and discourage North Carolinians from exercising their constitutional right to peaceably assemble by imposing extremely harsh criminal penalties against peaceful protesters. The bill would disproportionately impact Black and Brown community members who are calling for racial justice.

Legislators in neighboring states are considering more egregious anti-protest bills that would create fear for those who want to participate in standing against racial injustice by marching or protesting.

From CNN:

Alabama, Iowa and other states are seeking to impose guilt by association on people who happen to be at a mass assembly where violence allegedly takes place, even if they have no part in it.

Just this past week in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill under which every person in the crowd of, say, thousands could potentially face felony charges even if only a handful become violent. The law also mandates harsher criminal penalties not simply for using force or threats of force, but for doing so specifically to change someone else’s mind.

In addition to the 250 bills restricting voting access across the country, this is yet another desperate attempt by Republicans to hang onto power and control at all costs — even if it means restricting our freedoms.

Rather than address the realities of unchecked police violence against Black and Brown communities and listen to their constituents that are exercising their constitutional right, legislators are pushing to silence our communities voices and suppress our rights through targeted attacks. 

Bottom Line: State lawmakers around the country should be celebrating the fact that their constituents are getting out into the streets and making their voices heard, instead of organizing an assault on our rights —  it’s unconstitutional and un-American.

In case our Republican legislators have forgotten, our right to speak out against injustice and march for those being disproportionately impacted by our country’s legacy of discrimination is fundamental and apart of being in a representative democracy. 

Join us in supporting the ACLU of North Carolina in defending free speech in North Carolina. Take action today by telling your lawmakers to stop #HB805 at: https://action.aclu.org/send-message/stophb805

Alanna Joyner

Stay Informed