From the Greensboro sit-in to Ella Baker’s mobilizing for civil rights to the HB2 protests and 2020’s Freedom summer, Black activists and organizers have been at the center of moving North Carolina towards liberation. At a time when Black-led movements are getting closer to shifting the material conditions for Black communities in North Carolina, representatives are retaliating by targeting our friends and families with House bill 805 (HB 805). In the past, white supremacists have retaliated when Black people defend themselves and/or take power, like in the Wilmington massacre of 1898. We see HB 805 in line with the legacy of white supremacist attacks against our people. This bill intends to criminalize Black protestors who are taking to the streets to protest the killing of Black people at the hands of law enforcement. We must hold the line and declare that Black protestors Matter!
So what is HB 805?
“HB 805 would allow very serious criminal charges to be brought against someone who is part of a gathering that meets the bill’s vague definition of a “riot,” even if the accused person hasn’t harmed anyone or damaged property. Black, Brown, Latinx, and Indigenous folks will be disproportionately targeted when law enforcement is given broad discretion to arrest, charge, and severely punish people. This will surely be the insidious legacy of HB 805 if the bill is passed.” – NC ACLU.
The aftermath for people who are arrested because of this bill will be catastrophic. It takes years and a lot of money for people to get an expungement of records. People who also come in contact with the criminal legal system will face additional barriers in living lives of dignity, including access to housing, jobs, federal loans, and much more.
Is this happening elsewhere?
Unfortunately, we are not alone. Republican lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills in 2021. In Oklahoma and Iowa, anti-protest bills grant immunity to drivers whose vehicles strike and injure protesters in public streets–meaning people can hit protestors without consequences. In Florida, a bill that the dream defenders call the “censorship bill” was signed by Gov. Ron Desantis to amp up the level of punishment for protestors. We must keep protesting and challenge proposals that will disproportionately impact POC.
What can we do about it:
HB 805 is currently sitting on the desk of the Governor. Click here to urge Gov. Cooper to defend the right to protest and veto HB 805.