Coalition of Groups Rally Against Proposed NC Anti-Protest Legislation

Jun 11, 2024 | Bills, Legislation, News, Politics

Advance Carolina Policy Director Jovita Lee denounces HB 237 as an attack on Black and Brown communities’ rights.

RALEIGH, NC – In an impassioned speech on the steps of the state legislature today, Jovita Lee, Policy Director for Advance North Carolina and convener of the North Carolina Black and Brown Policy Network, condemned a proposed anti-protest bill as an attack on the fundamental rights of Black and Brown communities.

“I am standing here this morning exhausted,” Lee declared. “Exhausted by the fact that time and again our legislature is spending more time creating ways to further penalize our Black and Brown communities by creating unnecessary legislation to directly harm them and their well-being, rather than prioritizing legislation that could actually improve the current conditions of their lived experiences.”

Lee’s speech was in response to HB 237, the latest in a series of bills that have drawn criticism for their potential to criminalize protest in North Carolina. A similar bill, HB 40, was met with widespread opposition and failed to pass last year.

“It is our First Amendment right to free speech and protest, but it seems to me that there are those within the four walls of this building that believe that fundamental right only belongs to a select few,” Lee stated firmly.

In her powerful address, Lee traced significant civil rights victories back to the power of protest, from the abolition of the three-fifths compromise to the Montgomery bus boycotts to voting rights legislation.

“My very being as a Black woman, to be able to present as myself in this country, at this time, is rooted in the power of protest. And it’s a power that they are trying to eliminate,” she proclaimed.

The proposed bill faces an uphill battle, with civil liberties groups promising court challenges if it becomes law. Advance Carolina, the Black and Brown Policy Network, and partner organizations stand firmly against HB 237, commit to protecting North Carolinians from its impacts, and will not back down in defending the constitutional right to protest.

To watch the full press conference, click here.

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