Within the past few years, hundreds of protests have emerged nationwide. Whether they serve as a rebuttal to police brutality, gender inequality or decisions made on behalf of the nation’s current administration, the country seems to have conflicting opinions in regard to their importance and effectiveness. A new law that may be enacted in North Carolina reflects an attitude towards protestors that has garnered mixed reviews.
The law, called House Bill 330, gives drivers who hit protesters who are blocking the road immunity from civil liability if they “exercise due care.” Approved by a 67-48 vote, the new bill comes in response to several protests that occurred in Charlotte last fall. Protesters rallied in the streets, and ultimately ended up blocking interstate highways and roads when they caught wind of fellow resident Keith Lamont Scott’s death.
According to several reports and a video of the aftermath plastered on several social media sites, Scott was shot in an apartment complex parking lot by police officer Brentley Vinson. Spectators, along with Scott’s relatives claim that he didn’t have a gun when he was shot, but in court, “all the credible evidence” led a jury to believe that Vinson’s use of deadly force was lawful. Vinson was exonerated of all criminal charges, causing heated protests across the city and deeply dividing its residents.
The bill is sponsored by state Republican representative Justin Burr. He, along with backers of the law claim that the law would not protect those who deliberately run over protesters. He went on to say that the law aims to vindicate motorists who might have “someone run out in front of their vehicle” and “cause major disruptions” on the roads.
“This bill does not allow for the driver of a vehicle to target protesters intentionally,” Burr said. “It does protect individuals who are rightfully trying to drive down the road.”
Critics have raised questions of the legislation’s constitutionality. They claim that its sole application to circumstances in which the person hit is a protester is questionable. While other skeptics oppose the bill due to the state’s current law. State Democrat representative and attorney, Robert Reives, called the bill “unnecessary.”
“I don’t know in what universe a person can run out in front of a car, and they’re going to win a personal injury case in North Carolina,” Reives said referring to the state’s contributory negligence law. The state already bars recovery by the plaintiff is he or she is found partially at fault.
If the house grants its final approval, the bill will still have to pass the Senate.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of someone else’s negligent actions, you may be entitled to compensation. Coping with an injury is difficult. With the help of well-versed attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian, you can focus on recuperating, while we advocate for you. Call their law office at (800) 529-6162 or contact them online for a consultation.