Louisiana is about to make attacking a cop a hate crime

Dozens Of Killings By Police Unreported, Unknown



Law enforcement personnel in Louisiana are about to be designated a protected class under hate-crime law, according to a new bill that just passed the state's two legislative bodies with near unanimous approval from lawmakers, and which Governor John Bel Edwards is now expected to sign, according to the Washington Post. The legislation, referred to as the "Blue Lives Matter" bill, would make it a crime to target someone "because of actual or perceived employment as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel," punishable with up to five additional years in prison or a maximum fine of $5,000 (for a felony offense). At present, Louisiana already protects minorities from hate crime attacks on the basis of their race, gender, sexual orientation, and religion, but not their chosen occupation.

"Blue Lives Matter" activism has emerged as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and asserts that, as the criticism of, and outrage over police-related deaths, excessive force, and racial profiling have become more mainstream, police officers face increasing levels of discrimination and violence, though as the Post notes, so far evidence of any such rise seems inconclusive at best,and an FBI report that came last week indicated that cops are actually safer than they've been in decades. Nonetheless, proponents of Louisiana HB 953 point to instances in which first responders have been targeted, especially a case in which a sheriff's deputy was randomly executed at a Houston gas station last fall, leading to national outcry from the law enforcement community linking the crime to rhetoric coming from activists like the Black Lives Matter movement — though it's worth noting that the assailant in that case turned out to have a history of mental illness and a few months ago was found incompetent to stand trial for the crime.

Critics of the Louisiana bill include the Anti-Defamation League, which is one of the leading advocates in the country for hate crime legislation. According to CNN, the ADL's regional director, Allison Padilla-Goodman, argued in a press release that the new bill "confuses the purpose of the Hate Crimes Act and weakens its impact by adding more categories of people, who are already better protected under other laws," also noting that "proving the bias intent is very different for these categories than it is for the bias intent of a crime against a law enforcement officer." Padilla-Goodwin has additionally pointed out to the Advocate that Louisiana law already provides the option of extra punishment for crimes that target police, as do 36 other states.

Elsewhere, the New Orleans chapter of the Black Youth Project 100, which works to raise awareness about police brutality, has also rejected the potential law, highlighting how few police officers are killed each year in comparison to the number killed by police violence, and arguing that "we cannot allow the gains of the civil rights movement to be squandered away by police officers scrambling to avoid criticism from their constituents." They call the bill "an insidious attempt to destabilize our First Amendment rights as community members who hold the police, and others sworn by oath to serve and protect, accountable," adding that "Including 'police' as a protected class in hate crime legislation would serve to provide more protection to an institution that is statistically proven to be racist in action, policy, and impact."

A similar bill has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives, by Colorado Republican Ken Buck, which proposes adding law enforcement personnel to the federal hate crime statute, but it has not yet been scheduled for a vote.

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Louisiana is about to make attacking a cop a hate crime
People march in protest to the fatal police shooting of Charleena Lyles, in Seattle, Washington on June 22, 2017. Police in Washington were under scrutiny after a pregnant woman was fatally shot by officers responding to a burglary call. Authorities said the 30-year-old victim, identified as Charleena Lyles, had called to report an attempted burglary at her apartment on the morning of June 18 and pulled a knife on the two officers, who shot and killed her. / AFP PHOTO / Jason Redmond (Photo credit should read JASON REDMOND/AFP/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JUNE 20: Chalk artwork is written on the ground at a memorial for Charleena Lyles at the apartment building in which she was killed on June 20, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. Officers from the Seattle Police Department shot and killed Lyles, a pregnant mother of four, on June 18. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
The car of Philando Castile is seen surrounded by police vehicles in an evidence photo taken after he was fatally shot by St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez during a traffic stop in July 2016. Picture released June 20, 2017. Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION WILL BE PROVIDED SEPARATELY.
People hold signs in protest after a jury found St. Anthony Police Department officer Jeronimo Yanez not guilty of second-degree manslaughter in the death of Philando Castile yesterday, in Manhattan, New York, U.S., June 17, 2017. REUTERS/Bria Webb
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People take part in a protest against the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile during a march in New York July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06: Demonstrators march through the streets protesting the Staten Island, New York grand jury's decision not to indict a police officer involved in the chokehold death of Eric Garner in July on December 6, 2014 in New York City. Protests are being staged nationwide after grand juries investigating the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and Eric Garner in New York failed to indict the police officers involved in both incidents. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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Portland, United States - May 19: Protesters hold signs during a demonstration for freedom and equality against police brutality and racism at the Portland Police Bureau's North Precinct in Portland, Ore., United States, on May 19, 2017, on what would have been Malcolm X's 92nd birthday. (Photo by Alex Milan Tracy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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