It was a tough day for Republican state Representatives John Torbett and John Faircloth (of Gaston and Guilford counties, respectively), the guys who wanted to label some North Carolina protesters “economic terrorists” and charge them with felonies. Thankfully, House Bill 249 died today in a 6–5 vote.
Here’s what HB 249 would have done, from the INDY‘s Sarah Willets:
A bill introduced in the state House today could label some disruptive protesters as “economic terrorists” and criminalizes blocking streets while participating “in a riot or other unlawful assembly.” […]
The bill seems to fall in line with others filed recently by Republican legislators nationwide in an attempt to curb protesting. While much of the bill refers to activities that are already criminalized in North Carolina, one provision would add a new penalty for blocking streets during an unlawful protest. The measure would add to the state’s definition of violent terrorism a separate category of “economic terrorism,” which would be considered a Class H felony—which doesn’t sound Orwellian at all.
The state ACLU was less than thrilled when the bill was proposed. At the time, spokesman Mike Meno said that “people should view these attempts to either outright curb protests or have a chilling effect on people’s ability to protest as a really great threat.” So it’s no surprise that the organization celebrated the bill’s failure.
It’s worth noting that North Carolina was not the only state that faced such a legislative push. At least sixteen other states have entertained the same sort of thing. But for the time being, it’s safe to march on in the Old North State.
Then again, House Bill 330—which would basically make it legal for drive to run over protesters in the street—was reported favorably out of the House Judiciary 1 Committee today.