NC lawmakers OK tougher plant protest penalties

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The Legislature has agreed to give police authority to charge protesters at North Carolina utility plants with felonies if they attempt to disrupt plant operations or place themselves or others at risk of injury.

The Senate gave final legislative approval Monday to legislation increasing penalties for first-degree trespass when they occur at power and water treatment plants.

The measure now heading to Gov. Beverly Perdue’s desk was in response to the arrests of Greenpeace protesters at a coal-fired Duke Energy plant in Arden. Some protesters climbed a smokestack and others secured themselves to equipment.

First-degree trespassing is currently a misdemeanor with a maximum 60 days in jail. The bill creates a higher grade of misdemeanor and a low-grade felony that could mean several months behind bars for a first offense.

Source: The Associated Press