The North Carolina legislature came together recently to pass strong anti-rioting legislation that will increase the penalty for those arrested in Antifa-style riots.
House Bill 40, which passed with bipartisan support, contains the same provisions as a bill that was vetoed in 2021 by Democratic governor Roy Cooper. Last week the governor’s office indicated that new legislation would be allowed to become law without the governor’s signature. The governor had no choice but to relent this time since the bill passed with a bipartisan veto-proof majority, meaning any new veto would be overridden.
The legislation increases the penalty for those arrested for rioting where deaths or injury occurred, or significant damage was inflicted on property. It also increases penalties for anyone convicted of assaulting a first responder during a riot. Since radical organizations supporting Antifa rioters with systematic bail funds has resulted in revolving door justice, the bill also tightens bail and pre-trial release requirements.
During the summer of 2020 riots in North Carolina cost law enforcement agencies millions of dollars and resulted in millions of more dollars in insurance claims.
Critics unjustifiably called the anti-riot bill “racist” and said it would have a “chilling effect” on civil rights. Governor Cooper called the bill “unnecessary” and said it was “intended to intimidate and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest.”
Yet since the legislation was specifically tailored to address riots in which there were deaths, injuries, and significant damage, as well as attacks on first responders that objection rings hollow. Governor Cooper’s previous veto suggested he was more sympathetic to Antifa rioters than he was concerned about the welfare of victims and first responders.
The North Carolina General Assembly, and especially its leadership, took appropriate action in the wake of Antifa-led riots across America by passing legislation to address the violent and destructive rioting tactics used by anarchists and communists on the streets of America. They are to be commended for not quitting after the governor’s veto in 2021. North Carolina’s legislative leaders have demonstrated that they have not forgotten what happened in 2020 and worked diligently to create more support for their legislation, including bringing several Democrat legislators on board, led by the primary sponsor, an African American Democrat named Shelly Willingham.
This move in North Carolina shows bipartisan support can be built to pass legislation to take on anarchist and communist rioters. Hyperbolic claims that anti-rioting legislation is a threat to free speech are ultimately unconvincing and the use of political violence and intimidation to silence others must not be tolerated.
It is not too late for legislatures to take action to deter a repeat of 2020 on the streets of America. North Carolina is now a shining example of what is possible. Multiple states proposed similar legislation in the wake of 2020, but several measures fell short and have not been brought back; notable examples were bills proposed by Rep. Becky Currie in Mississippi and Senator Rick Brattin of Missouri.
Legislation like North Carolina’s is badly needed to deter a repeat of the 2020 riots heading into the 2024 election season.