It has long been said it takes only one step to go from the sublime to the ridiculous. This past week, the NC General Assembly jumped into the ridiculous with both feet. Any intimation that a driver can use his car to strike protesters blocking a road is prime for misuse and abuse. Nevertheless, HB 330 passed in the House and was sent to the Senate.
Imagine the public conversations about whether the driver left home with the intention of ramming his car through those demonstrating for a cause he doesn't like, or was it merely an accident that he hit the gas pedal instead of the brake and plowed through all those people at 50 mph.
Where will the courts draw the line, Mr. Moore and Mr. Berger? Should the bill include a speed limit? Under 35 and the driver is exempt from charges, but over 35 and it's vehicular manslaughter? Did the driver start from a dead stop, or did he get a running start and hit people at full speed?
Will the driver's previous comments on social media or to neighbors be taken into account? Will the court rule differently if the white driver's Facebook page shows negative comments about Black Lives Matter before driving through a march in Charlotte? What if the driver has a confederate flag decal on his window? What if an African American driver with a Black Lives Matter sticker on his car kills a white protester??
Earlier this week in the House Judiciary II Committee discussion on another bill, HB 249, those of us present heard continual references to 'what happened in Charlotte.' HB 330 also seems to be about reaction to 'what happened in Charlotte.'
HB 249 is the Economic Terrorism bill. A bill that creates special charges of Economic Terrorism for protesters engaged in specific, ‘disruptive’ actions, such as blocking traffic. Everyone in the room was well aware that 'what happened in Charlotte' was a reference to demonstrations in Charlotte involving African American people declaring that the death of another African American man at the hands of police was not acceptable.
This bill's sponsors expressed concern about innocent bystanders. There are laws already on the books that punish 'protestors' or 'demonstrators' who damage businesses, hurt bystanders or riot out of control. But the bill's sponsors said it is time to 'ratchet up' punishments for protestors. Their only moment of hesitation came when it was suggested that, as a law, the Economic Terrorism bill could be used to charge protesters outside abortion clinics, who have engaged in every precept named in the bill. The sponsoring gentlemen took a deep breath, claimed it was not the same, and quickly moved on.
The sponsors of HB 249 said they could not imagine the fear experienced by people in cars finding themselves surrounded by demonstrators who frightened them. And in truth, it is frightening to be caught up in a crowd without knowing what the anger is about. But giving drivers a right to plow through a group of human beings is not the answer.
The meaning of those words, 'what happened in Charlotte,' was clear to all. White people needed a law to support them in a desire to escape black protesters. Continual references to ‘events in Charlotte’ left no other conclusion. All present were transported back to the 1960's, and beyond. African Americans are marching and white people are in fear.
As Rep Mickey Michaux, put it, HB 249 is an abomination. Fortunately, it failed to get enough votes to pass out of committee. HB 330 is an abomination as well. These two bills reflect nothing more than white people reacting in fear to African Americans trying to claim their rights as human beings.