RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday vetoed two bills — one geared toward stiffening punishments for people who riot and another restricting critical race theory being taught in public schools.

House Bill 805 would have allowed police to charge people with more serious felonies if they cause damage in excess of $1,500 or cause serious bodily injury or death. Property owners would have been able to sue for up to three times the amount of actual damage sustained. People arrested could also be held in jail for up to 48 hours before a judge considers granting bail.

Social justice groups raised concerns that if signed into law, it would infringe on First Amendment rights of people who want to protest peacefully.

“People who commit crimes during riots and at other times should be prosecuted and our laws provide for that, but this legislation is unnecessary and is intended to intimidate and deter people from exercising their constitutional rights to peacefully protest,” Cooper said in a statement.

House Bill 234 would have limited how teachers can address and teach race and sex. Senate Leader Phil Berger (R) said the ugly parts of the country’s history should be taught in schools but that students shouldn’t have to adopt an ideology that promotes discrimination and division.

Critical race theory has been a controversial topic at school board meetings in central North Carolina and around the country. Groups protested outside a Johnston County Board of Education meeting in July.

“The legislature should be focused on supporting teachers, helping students recover lost learning, and investing in our public schools. Instead, this bill pushes calculated, conspiracy-laden politics into public education,” Cooper said in a statement.

Berger said in a statement: “It’s perplexing that Gov. Cooper would veto a bill that affirms the public school system’s role to teach students the full truth about our state’s sometimes ugly past. His invented excuse is so plainly refuted by the text of the bill that I question whether he even read it.”
Sen. Berger continued, “More broadly, Democrats’ choice to oppose a bill saying schools can’t force kids to believe one race is superior to another really shows how far off the rails the mainstream Democratic Party has gone.”