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Gov. Cooper vetoes controversial SB 168 during Raleigh protest
Death probe records would've gone off-limits
Published Sunday, July 19, 2020 7:38 pm
by Marco Quiroz-Gutierrez | NC News Intern Corps

Led by NC BORN organizer Lauren Howell, protestors March down North Blount Street on July 6 shouting "Black Lives Matter" and chanting against SB 168, a bill vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper that would have limited public access to some death investigation records.

RALEIGH — As protestors objecting to SB 168 assembled in a circle across from the North Carolina Executive Mansion in Raleigh last week, spirits were already high. But at the end of the protest, they would be much higher.

The bill, which would prevent death investigation records shared with the state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner from being released to the public, was vetoed by Gov. Roy Cooper during the protest.

Some in the group had been camping out in front of the building for a week protesting the bill, passed almost unanimously by the General Assembly on June 27.

Just before the protestors arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina legislators introduced SB 232, which was meant to repeal the provision of SB 168 the group was opposing.

Before Cooper vetoed SB 168, NC Building Our Revolution Now (BORN) organizer Lauren Howell said the fact that legislators introduced SB 232 was a win for the movement.

“It’s very obvious that we’ve gotten their attention,” Howell said. “Despite them acting like their constituents haven’t been sleeping outside of the Governor’s Mansion and asking for their help for days now.”

As people with signs opposing the police and SB 168 blocked Blount Street in front of the Governor’s Mansion, a group of about 100 people marched toward downtown Raleigh.
As they approached the Capitol, the marchers sat in a circle and blocked traffic at the intersection of South Salisbury Street and Hillsborough Street. There, Howell talked to the group about police brutality and Vanessa Guillen, a soldier at Fort Hood in Texas, whose remains were found after being allegedly killed by a fellow soldier.

In the middle of their discussion, Howell interrupted the group, “Guess what? Guess what?” she said.

Cooper had just vetoed SB 168.

The group, which had been marching for this exact outcome, erupted into applause.

Organizer Oliver Welsh said the veto was a result of the resiliency of the protestors, and the pressure they’ve put on Cooper by camping outside the Governor’s Mansion.
“It’s an affirmation that we really can change things, and we can change them fast if we stay committed to each other, we stay committed to fighting for what’s right and working together,” Welsh said.

As the protestors arrived back at the starting point of the march, a chorus of voices chanted even louder than they had at the beginning.

Despite the marchers’ feeling that Cooper’s veto was a victory, Welsh said this isn’t the end of the road.

“There’s a lot more work to do,” Welsh said. “This is a small win in the battle for what we’re aiming for at the end of the day.”

The NC News Intern Corps is a program of the NC Local News Workshop, funded by the North Carolina Local News Lab Fund and housed at Elon University’s School of Communications.


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