Coronavirus Order Brings First Amendment Confusion in North Carolina
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
The coronavirus epidemic has done many horrible things to far too many people in recent weeks. But it’s also done one service: it’s showed how quickly – even flippantly – those in authority are willing to ignore basic constitutional rights.
Consider the case of the Raleigh, North Carolina Police Department. On April 14, the P.D.’s social media manager posted this statement:
“Protesting is a non-essential activity.”
The tweet was in response to an arrest law enforcement made earlier at a rally calling for the state to end its lockdown, and re-open for business. Protestors were asked to disperse and warned they were in violation of an executive order banning gatherings of more than 10 people.
WRAL reporter Travis Fain reached out to the Raleigh P.D. for clarification of the Twitter post, and the Department’s position on the arrest.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) spokesman seemed to throw the Police Department – and the cops who actually made the arrest, the capitol police — under the bus:
The arrest appear to have been based on violating Executive Order 121, which limits mass gatherings to 10 people or fewer. While protests can be subject to restrictions on time, place and manner, they are held as a fundamental right under the Constitution and are not listed in the order.
The co-chairmen of the North Carolina Senate Judiciary Committee have asked Gov. Cooper to clarify for all concerned whether his order “prohibited the First Amendment right of North Carolinians to peacefully protest against “ his executive order.