RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina Democrats are calling a Republican-backed proposal to protect certain drivers if they hit protesters with their vehicles “shockingly horrible.”
Republican state Rep. Justin Burr (R-Montgomery County) decided to introduce the bill after watching footage of the protests in Charlotte after police shot and killed Keith Lamont Scott last year.
“In the dark of night, individuals are running out onto the interstates and potentially putting not only their lives in danger but putting the lives of the people in the vehicles in danger,” he said.
Burr’s bill has been approved by the North Carolina House of Representatives.
If a driver is “exercising due care” and injures a protester blocking a street, the driver wouldn’t be held liable.
“I think that’s completely unnecessary and a step too far,” said Susanna Birdsong with the ACLU of North Carolina.
She argues the bill actually targets protesters who are exercising their First Amendment rights
“We’ve seen kind of a wave of legislation across the country that is kind of targeting protest activity,” she said.
Wayne Goodwin, the head of the state Democratic party, called the bill “a shockingly horrible and dangerous piece of legislation.” Saying the courts would ultimately find such a law unconstitutional, Democrats are urging the state Senate and Gov. Roy Cooper to reject the bill.
“Well, I think they’re being a bit over the top in their response.” Burr said.
Another bill, which would have labeled some protesters “economic terrorists” for disrupting business, was shot down by legislators Tuesday.