Thursday the Democratic Governor of Lousiana, John Bel Edwards, signed a bill making it a hate crime to target police officers or other first responders. The bill is known as blue lives matter, a take off on the Black Lives Matter movement that has been critical of police in the past year. Gov. Edwards released a statement explaining his support for the bill:
“Coming from a family of law enforcement officers, I have great respect for the work that they do and the risks they take to ensure our safety,” said Gov. Edwards. “The men and women who put their lives on the line every day, often under very dangerous circumstances are true heroes and they deserve every protection that we can give them. They serve and protect our communities and our families. The overarching message is that hate crimes will not be tolerated in Louisiana.”
Prior to becoming law, hate crimes in Louisiana included offenses against any person because of their perceived race, age, gender, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry. This new law adds police officers, firefighters and emergency medical service personnel.
The State Representative who wrote the bill was prompted to do so by the ambush shooting of Officer Darren Goforth in Texas last year. CNN reports:
“It looked like it was strictly done because someone didn’t like police officers, like a hate crime,” [State Rep. Lance] Harris said, adding that including officers and first responders to the hate-crime statute made sense because the existing law already is broad, covering attacks because of the victim’s race or gender or affiliation with certain organizations.
“In the news, you see a lot of people terrorizing and threatening police officers on social media just due to the fact that they are policemen. Now, this (new law) protects police and first responders under the hate-crime law,” Harris said, adding that he considers legislative action necessary because the crime is “done strictly out of hate for the officer and his uniform.”
The new law was supported by both Lousiana and national police organizations. The executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations tells McClathy, “It sends a message to the community … that blue lives do matter, that assaults against police officers, law enforcement officers, and firefighters are assaults on the most basic, most fundamental level of government.”
Senator Pat Toomey has been pushing a similar bill at the national level called the Thin Blue Line act. Toomey posted this video on You Tube in March describing his proposal: