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The North Carolina House Has Passed A Bill Protecting Drivers Who Hit Protesters

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The North Carolina House Has Passed A Bill Protecting Drivers Who Hit Protesters

Republicans attempted to limit voting in North Carolina

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

The North Carolina House of Representatives just passed a bill that could protect drivers who hit pedestrians with their vehicles during street demonstrations. State representatives approved legislation April 27 that removes civil liability from drivers if they hit pedestrians who are, “participating in a protest or demonstration.” The legislation passed in a 67-48 vote.

North Carolina became an epicenter of Black Lives Matter protests, which erupted in Charlotte after police shootings of unarmed black men.

According to an article in U.S. News by Steven Nelson, Democratic state Rep. Henry Michaux, who opposes the legislation, thinks it is likely to become law through an override vote. He thinks a lawsuit is the only way to prevent the bill from becoming a law.

Michaux told U.S. News he finds the legislation “unconstitutional” and thinks people will interpret it as an “invitation to mow down protesters or weave through parades, and he feels the motivation behind the bill may be racial.”

“Who demonstrates more than people of color?” Michaux said to U.S. News. He worries that “It would give some folks the idea,” to intentionally run over people “because you’ve got a group of black folks out here or a group of Latinos out here.”

Nelson notes that the concept behind the bill appears to have its roots in a backlash against the Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota. “The idea of immunizing drivers appears to have originated in North Dakota, where state Rep. Keith Kempenich proposed a similar bill in January after his mother-in-law allegedly was swarmed on a roadway by protesters opposed to construction of the Dakota Access oil pipeline. The measure was rejected in a 41-50 vote in February,” Nelson reports.

The bill does include some language protecting pedestrians who have proper permits, and says drivers can still be found liable hitting pedestrians if the drivers’ actions are deemed “willful or wanton.”

However, that leaves a lot up to interpretation.

As Nelson reports, drivers are protected from liability for running down pedestrians “if they are exercising ‘due care.’”

If a driver hits a pedestrian who is “participating in a protest or demonstration and blocking traffic in a public street or highway,” as the bill’s language states, the driver may not be held responsible if it can be proved that he or she was “exercising due care.”

Read a detailed article on the legislation in U.S. News.

April M. Short is a yoga teacher and writer who previously worked as AlterNet’s drugs and health editor. She currently works part-time for AlterNet, and freelances for a number of publications nationwide. 

This article was made possible by the readers and supporters of AlterNet.



  1. Lynda Groom May 1, 2017

    As usual the devil seems to be found in the details. A definitive description of accidental and or intentional must be much inproved.

    1. FireBaron May 2, 2017

      It’s easy. Check the car’s computer. If they speed up, it’s intentional.

      1. Lynda Groom May 2, 2017

        So the only way go check is if the car increased speed? Good to know.

        1. dpaano May 3, 2017

          Do we put computers in all the cars much like they do in airplanes? Do they all need “black boxes” to tell what the driver was doing at the time of the accident? I know some cars already have this (unbeknownst by the owner), but others do not. Maybe we need to make it mandatory….either that, or put cameras on the front dashboard like the police cars!

  2. Aaron_of_Portsmouth May 1, 2017

    A dark force has enveloped all of North Carolina and South Carolina, and many of the enlightened and good citizens in both states have to suffer as a result of the evil influences motivating a particular Party—right, you guessed it.

    What has come over the GOP Establishment? Have they collaborated to represent the essence of the worst that humanity can produce? Are they in competition with ISIS, Al Qaida, or competing with the honors of being the most fanatical element in the Americas?

    Whatever the reason, a Bill pardoning drivers for hitting protesters is just a thinly veiled guise to maim, or worse, fellow American citizens. How sadistic can a political Party get?

    What is to prevent a state, with certain members of the police forces and ordinary citizens already preconditioned to want to maim or kill, from taking to the road to look for protesters or groups of black people gathered together knowing that if they ram them they can use this Satan-inspired Bill to cover them if found guilty of reckless behavior???

    Has the Trump/FOX/Alt-Right Effect extended its reach to be able to derange state legislators en masse?

    I know I’m raising a lot of questions, but something is dreadfully wrong with the GOP.

    This is one of the worst features that a defunct and spiritually moribund system of Governance has ever produced, and is on track to cook up more schemes to harm America. ISIS and others need not initiate attacks because the GOP is all set to act as proxies. Wearing suits and red ties, and wearing wing tip shoes won’t sanitize the sophisticated destruction and inciting to riot and kill, which Trump and the GOP have inspired over the years.

    1. Independent1 May 1, 2017

      This new law is akin to stand-your-ground laws in many GOP states. The difference is essentially using a car as an excuse for killing someone rather than a gun.

      And don’ forget, this is the state where the legislature passed a law that put limits on the new Democrat governor’s powers which thankfully were negated by a judge. These legislators are willing to even short circuit democracy.

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      2. dbtheonly May 2, 2017

        You seem to assume that Republicans have some sense of decency, fair-play, or morality. I assert they have none. From gerrymandering both State and Federal Districts, to Voter ID, to “stand your ground”, to guns for those incapable of handling their own finances; Republicans pander to the very worst of us. There can be no compromise. They must be rooted out entirely.

        For Aaron, the effects of the RWMO become more pronounced as we go down the electoral level. Did you see some of the ads they’re running against Jon Osoff? Without a comprehensive, national scope, media presence, Democrats are going to be at a noted disadvantage.

        1. Independent1 May 2, 2017

          I’m not sure how you got that impression, but I assure you I have no delusions that Republicans have some sense of decency. (Would people with some sense of decency deliberately attempt to short circuit our country’s democracy by putting limits on the power of another party’s governor?)

      3. Aaron_of_Portsmouth May 2, 2017

        Many of our legislators are clearly going backwards, back to a Wild West era mentality.

    2. kep May 4, 2017

      As usual, you stupid liberal are twisting the issue. This is to keep paid protesters from jumping out in front of a car, then suing. Liberals are the ones out there protesting an elections that they LOST.

      1. Aaron_of_Portsmouth May 4, 2017

        Thanks, kep—I know I can always count on a silly comment from you to make me chuckle. Dittoheads like you are a dime a dozen, and are an appreciated source of amusement.

  3. Thoughtopsy May 1, 2017

    First you disenfranchise them, then you make it legal to run them over.

    Is it the Hunger Games yet?

    1. dbtheonly May 1, 2017


      I can’t wait to drive near a Trump demonstration.

  4. Dapper Dan May 2, 2017

    I am absolutely stunned that any government would turn a blind eye and say its ok to run over people and escape any liability. This is being proposed by the so called party that says their pro life ? They feel it’s their duty to force women to carry an unwanted preganancy to term but it’s ok to maim and kill if people dare to protest ? What if one of the victims is pregnant ? I can’t imagine any Judge willing to uphold such a heinous law if the NC legislature does override a veto. Absolutely shameful

    1. FireBaron May 2, 2017

      You are dealing with the North Carolina legislature. They are still debating whether to approve or reject the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments.

      1. Dapper Dan May 2, 2017

        And of course they had the whole restroom issue and finally rescinded that but with strings attached. I question what do they do if a drunk driver plows into some protesters? Do they get a free pass ?

    2. dpaano May 3, 2017

      I wonder how they would handle any civil suits against someone running over a family member or a child or anyone! That should be pretty interesting! Apparently, as you said, Dan, it’s okay to run over someone that’s in your way, but it’s NOT okay to abort a baby who may be seriously ill or not expected to live or to save a mother. That’s the problem with these so-called “pro-life” people…..it’s okay to execute a convict, but not so much an abortion.

  5. johninPCFL May 2, 2017

    Is sadly reminiscent of the “DUI manslaughter” that the mob used for decades to kill their enemies. The conviction usually resulted in a minor jail sentence as opposed to life in prison for the more overt shootings that preceded the unusual legal tactic.

    It’s the new “get out of jail free card” for RWNJ and other GOP extremists.

  6. dpaano May 3, 2017

    And who decides if the person was exercising “due care?” Seriously? This whole thing is so ridiculous that I can’t believe that grown men and women actually came up with it! Pedestrians have the right of way…..that’s a given!! This just gives people an excuse to run people down that they may not agree with! Not good!


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