ACLU and activists say North Carolina anti-riot, looting bill is 'racist' and 'anti-BLM'
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"This bill HB805 is racist. It’s an anti-Black Lives Matter bill," attorney Dawn Blagrove of the activist group Emancipate NC told WNCN.
House Bill 805 was sponsored by Republican North Carolina Speaker of the House Tim Moore after Raleigh saw riots last summer as protests and riots swept the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Under the bill, people would be charged with a felony for causing significant property damage, serious bodily harm or assaulting emergency personnel during riots.
"Like so many other North Carolinians, I saw the destruction that happened last year with, what was not protests, but what became riots, looting, assaults," Moore said of the bill, which is heading to the Senate after passing the state House, WNCN reported.
Critics of the bill are now lambasting it as "racist," and say it would unfairly target Black people.
"This bill is a retaliation against the Black Lives Matter movement," said Angaza Laughinghouse with the ACLU.
"When North Carolina State University won championships and individuals took to the streets and things was damaged, you didn’t see a bill like this come out," said Kerwin Pittman with Emancipate North Carolina.
Some also came to the defense of looting and rioting last summer, including author Vicky Osterweil, who wrote the book "In Defense of Looting," and told NPR last August that looting gives people "an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure."
"Looting strikes at the heart of property, of whiteness and of the police," Osterweil said in the interview. "It gets to the very root of the way those three things are interconnected. And also, it provides people with an imaginative sense of freedom and pleasure and helps them imagine a world that could be. And I think that's a part of it that doesn't really get talked about – that riots and looting are experienced as sort of joyous and liberatory."
Moore slammed the activists’ claims the bill is racist, and said it would apply to any person who destroys property.
"That’s a ridiculous claim," he said. "This law applies to anyone who would go in and destroy property. Like so many Americans, I was outraged at what I saw at the U.S. Capitol. The destruction that happened there."
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s office did not immediately respond to Fox News’s request for comment on the bill, but he told WNCN he needs to review it further if it lands on his desk.
North Carolina’s bill comes after Republican governors in other states have signed or pushed for anti-rioting legislation, including in Florida where Gov. Ron DeSantis touted that he enacted the country’s "strongest anti-rioting" law in April.
"We saw last summer some of the local governments were actually telling, not necessarily in Florida but throughout the country, basically telling these folks to stand, telling police to stand down while cities burned, while businesses were burned, while people were being harmed," DeSantis said at the time. "That’s a dereliction of duty."