The House of Representatives of North Carolina passed HB 330 on Thursday that will allow motorists to collide with protesters blocking roads. So long as drivers “exercise due care,” they would be immune to prosecution. Titled, “An Act providing that a person driving an automobile while exercising due care is immune from civil liability for any injury to another if the injured person was participating in a protest or demonstration and blocking traffic in a public right-of-way at the time of the injury,” House Bill 330 passed by a 67-48 vote. 
 
The bill now goes to the North Carolina Senate for consideration. It was introduced by Republican Rep. Justin Burr. Of the bill, Burr said that North Carolinians have see “folks” run out into the street and block traffic. He said that drivers should “not have to fear driving through Charlotte or anywhere in North Carolina.”
 
“This bill does not allow for the driver of a vehicle to target protesters intentionally,” Burr said, adding that the proposed law protects those who are rightfully trying to drive down the road. 
 
Last year, the city of Charlotte witnessed deadly rioting and blocked streets in the wake of outrage over the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott by a local police officer. One person was shot and killed in the rioting. Scott, a black man, was shot to death by Officer Brentley Vinson, who is also a black American. Scott was killed on September 20. Riots ensued and caused property damage, and injuries to attending police. During the protests and rioting, protesters barricaded several streets and ignited bonfires. In one instance, a news photographer was seized by protesters who sought to set him on fire. Police intervened and saved him.
 
Vinson was ultimately exonerated in November 2016 when authorities concluded that the shooting was justified.

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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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