Reopen NC to Cooper: Is Protesting Essential? Or Criminal?

RALEIGH – The grassroots movement rising up in opposition to the governor’s ‘Stay-at-Home’ orders is seeking assurances from Governor Roy Cooper after their first event was shutdown for being ‘non-essential.’

Now, attorneys for Reopen NC have written Cooper and Wake County officials that the planned protest in Raleigh on Tuesday is deemed ‘essential.’ They point to the Constitution as justification that the exercising these basic liberties is as essential as it gets int he United States of America.

From the Raleigh News & Observer:

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Lawyers Anthony Biller and James Lawrence, Raleigh-based lawyers with the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich representing ReOpenNC, sent a letter to Cooper and Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Greg Ford on Friday asking for assurances they’ll be able to protest.

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According to the letter, the protesters want written clarification that protests are considered essential activities and thus not subject to executive orders’ restrictions on mass gatherings.

“Unfortunately,” Biller wrote, “these broad orders have created a reasonable apprehension the exercise of such fundamental rights will lead to detention, arrest and criminal prosecution.”

[…] Being declared essential would mean they couldn’t be prosecuted under the provision that bans mass gatherings of more than 10 people.

“My clients would prefer to resolve these issues amicably,” Biller wrote in the letter.

The lawyers also demand charges against 51-year-old Monica Faith Ussery, the Holly Springs woman arrested and charged with violating Cooper’s order last Tuesday, be dismissed. […]”

Protest arrests in years past, mostly of Leftists getting arrested on purpose by refusing to leave General Assembly chambers, have mostly resulted in dropped charges by local DAs. Whether or not the same treatment is afforded Ms. Ussery, or any others facing charges from these pandemic era political protests, will be very telling.

More telling, will be whether or not Cooper recognizes the constitutional limits of his power when it comes to such fundamental rights as people assembling to voice displeasure with their elected government.

Read more here.

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