Tougher riot punishments approved by legislature a 2nd time

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -The North Carolina legislature has given final approval for the second time in three years to more severe punishments for rioters.

A similar bill passed in 2021 was successfully vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. But Republicans made seat gains in November so that they could stand a better chance of overriding a Cooper veto this year.

The Senate completed the legislature’s votes on the bill on Thursday.

The measure is a response to 2020 demonstrations about racial injustice that while largely peaceful at times turned violent.

Critics say the measure will intimidate peaceful demonstrators from speaking out. But supporters say it will actually protect First Amendment rights.