A new bill written specifically for police officers is now waiting for Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ signature, then it will become law. Authored by Republican Rep. Lance Harris, the bill passed both legislative houses by a wide majority.
Once HB 953 goes into effect, the state’s hate-crime law will cover the state’s police force. All uniformed employees, law enforcement and emergency volunteers will be a part of a protected class under the “Blue Lives Matter” bill.
“Police officers and firefighters often perform life-saving acts of heroism, oftentimes under very dangerous circumstances, and are integral in maintaining order and civility in our society,” the governor said in a statement. “The members of the law enforcement community deserve these protections, and I look forward to signing this bill into law.”
From the Washington Examiner:
In Louisiana, committing a felony against a protected class can add up to five years to a sentence. A misdemeanor hate crime can add on an additional six months. Under the state’s current law, hate crime charges can be added to a sentence if a crime targeted a victim because of their race, color, ethnicity national origin, gender, disability or religion.
Once HB 953 becomes law, the definition of a hate crime would include targeting a victim because of the person’s “actual or perceived employment as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical services personnel.”
The bill already has opposition – the New Orleans chapter of Black Youth Project 100 has called for Governor Edwards to veto the bill.
“By treating the police as specialized citizens held above criticism and the laws they are charged to enforce, we lose our ability to exercise our First Amendment right,” the activist group said in a statement. “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.”
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