Cooper Vetoes House Bill Over Free Speech Concerns

Cooper Vetoes House Bill Over Free Speech Concerns

4:50pm Sep 13, 2021
Protesters take to the streets in Winston-Salem in the summer of 2020 to protest the death of George Floyd. PAUL GARBER/WFDD

Governor Roy Cooper vetoed a state House bill last week that would have imposed harsher penalties for protesters facing charges of rioting. 

House Bill 805 would make certain acts committed during riots more serious felonies and would allow some victims to sue for three times the damages they incurred by vandalism or injuries. 

Groups including the American Civil Liberties Union spoke out against the bill, saying it would have a chilling effect on democracy and would likely come down harder on people of color. 

Republican House Speaker Tim Moore issued a statement following the veto, saying the bill was a common-sense measure that offered protections when protests become violent. He said rejecting it was a slap in the face to small business owners.

Cooper says people who cause violence and destruction during protests should be prosecuted, and there are laws in place to take care of that. 

But he says the bill could violate people’s rights to peacefully protest.

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