Gov. Cooper vetoes SB 168 after days of protests

North Carolina news

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Gov. Roy Cooper on Monday night vetoed a bill that included a provision that would have limited transparency in death investigations, according to a news release.

Protesters have been voicing their disapproval of Senate Bill 168 for days. They were concerned it could have led to death investigation records being shielded from the public, especially as they call for more transparency in cases of deaths at the hands of the police.

Click here to view SB 168

Under current state law, unnatural deaths in law enforcement custody must be reported to a county medical examiner. Then, if the death is under the medical examiner’s jurisdiction, an investigation is launched and related records are passed to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Those related records become public once law enforcement hands it over.

“While I believe neither the Department of Health and Human Services which proposed it, nor the General Assembly which unanimously passed it had any ill intent, the concerns that have since been raised make it clear this provision should not become law,” a news release from Cooper’s office read.

Raleigh police said 20 people were arrested Thursday during a demonstration in which protesters blocked Capital Boulevard. Protesters also gathered multiple times outside of the Executive Mansion over the past week or so.

Protesters also took to the streets in downtown Raleigh Monday night following Cooper’s decision to veto the bill

Dozens of people slept out front the Executive Mansion for seven days and vowed to stay put until the bill was vetoed.

“It’s just unconstitutional to withhold that type of information from us,” said Shai, a community activist who only provided a first name. 

Once the bill was vetoed protestors cheered, marched around downtown, danced and shared what they called uplifting messages. 

“We’re claiming this as a massive victory, we’ve been sleeping out here since Monday. This is step one and it’s awesome to see tangible proof of what we’re actually able to do when we come together,” said Taari Coleman, an organizer for the group NC Born. 

The group also says there is more work to do about city council votes and police reform. 

“We need a person that’s going to help us accomplish our goals and abolish the many police stations in southeast Raleigh and to create a public safety system that serves the community a lot more effectively,” said Taari Coleman, another organizer for NC Born. 

The group says they believe they built a sense of community outside the Executive Mansion so they aren’t sure if they plan to leave the area yet.

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