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Anti-Rioting Bill To Become Law Without Democrat Governor’s Signature

Anastasia Boushee
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Bipartisan legislation designed to increase penalties for rioting, which recently passed in North Carolina’s state legislature, will now become law without the signature of the state’s Democrat Gov. Roy Cooper.

House Bill 40 is designed to create new penalties for inciting or participating in a riot, but North Carolina’s Democrat governor is refusing to take any action on the bill.

After being presented with the legislation on March 10, Cooper released a statement explaining that he would neither sign nor veto the bill — noting that he had already vetoed a similar bill last year.


“I acknowledge that changes were made to modify this legislation’s effect after my veto of a similar bill last year,” the statement read. “Property damage and violence are already illegal and my continuing concerns about the erosion of the First Amendment and the disparate impacts on communities of color will prevent me from signing this legislation.”

Many critics have condemned Cooper’s comments about “disparate impacts on communities of color,” with Breitbart News senior editor-at-large arguing that the Democrat governor is a “racist” for implying that “black people are more likely to riot.”

The legislation will codify new felony and misdemeanor charges for any individual “who willfully engages in” or incites a riot. According to Breitbart News, “The charges vary in seriousness depending on whether certain thresholds for property damage are met, whether the person brandishes a weapon or uses a dangerous substance, and whether the person causes a death ‘in the course of the riot.’”

When Cooper vetoed House Bill 805 — the previous version of the Prevent Rioting and Civil Disorder Act — he claimed in a statement that the legislation was “unnecessary” and “intended to intimidate and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest.”


While House Bill 805 has broadly similar language to the new bill, there have been several changes made that were designed to safeguard North Carolina residents’ right to participate in lawful protests.

The bill, which was proposed in 2022, permits law enforcement to hold individuals accused of rioting for 48 hours before a judge makes a decision about their pre-trial detention. The new legislation shortens this time frame to 24 hours.

Changes were also made in House Bill 40 to require state law enforcement agencies to develop policies regarding protest response and engagement, as well as foreclosing on any interpretation of the law that could potentially “prevent or prohibit” North Carolina residents from exercising their First Amendment rights.

Both bills also make sure to clarify that “[m]ere presence alone [at a riot] without an overt act is not sufficient to sustain a conviction.” 

These bills are widely viewed as a response to several of the infamous George Floyd riots in 2020, especially because many of these riots in North Carolina “ended in violence, with clashes between protesters and police in Raleigh and Fayetteville, fires set, windows smashed and looting,” according to a 2020 article from WRAL.

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R) released a statement celebrating the bipartisan bill.

“Nearly three years after violent protests devastated communities and businesses in North Carolina, I am pleased that this bipartisan legislation will finally become law,” the statement read.

Of course, the left-wing mainstream media made sure to emphasize the criticism of the bill in their reporting: