MORRISVILLE, NC (03/15/2023) — Last week, House Bill 40 (Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder) passed in the Senate and is officially on the Governor’s desk. The deadline for action is March 20, 2023.
The state legislature first attempted to amend several statutes related to rioting in 2021, known as House Bill 805, as part of a national wave of legislation in response to protests for racial justice and police accountability that have swept across the country. Following the veto of HB 805, the legislature proposed HB 40 in February 2023. Like its predecessor, this bill would give broad discretion to law enforcement officers, empowering them to punish those rightfully criticizing their behavior and misconduct.
Yesterday, voting rights group Democracy North Carolina, alongside dozens of local and statewide advocacy groups, delivered a letter asking the Governor to veto HB 40 and protect free speech for all North Carolinians.
Cheryl Carter, Co-Executive Director for Democracy NC, fears the impact of HB 40’s implementation would clearly worsen the mass incarceration and disenfranchisement of Black and brown individuals across the state.
“At first glance, HB 40 appears to be written to protect our communities from property damage that could possibly result from a peaceful protest, but this bill would end up having a much more detrimental effect. HB 40 is an insidious attempt to discourage people from participating in the fundamental democratic practice of freely protesting and petitioning their government for a redress of grievances out of fear of racial retaliation.
In recent years, millions of North Carolinians have demanded justice for Black lives, exercising their constitutional freedom to engage in protected acts of protest. With the passage of this bill, North Carolinians must be willing to risk the immediate and long-term loss of their freedom, health, bodily autonomy, and economic security at the broad discretion of law enforcement and prosecutors when exercising their right to assemble.”
Democracy North Carolina is a statewide nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to strengthen democratic structures, build power among disenfranchised communities, and inspire confidence in a transformed political process that works for all. Learn more at democracync.org.