As a reaction to the “Black Lives Matter” movement, the state of Louisiana has just enacted a controversial “Blue Lives Matter” law (HB 953), which would make police officers and other ‘public safety’ workers a special protected class under hate-crime law. In other words, it is now a ‘hate crime’ to target police officers. The state is the first to enact such a law, and likely will not be the last. As of June 7th, the state of Tennessee is already wanting to jump on the bandwagon of enacting its own ‘Blue Lives Matter’ law. Congress has already proposed a bill along similar grounds.
Traditionally, hate-crime statutes provide for additional criminal penalties for those convicted of crimes who targeted victims on the basis of race, ethnicity, or religion. The new law moves away from the traditional legal principles of focusing on immutable characteristics and into occupations, which are a choice.
The law has come under much criticism. Critics say that those who argue that it is actually police who are under assault are furthering animosity towards police. The New Orleans chapter of activist group Black Youth Project 100 stated 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.”
Fatal shootings of officers have decreased over the previous few decades — from an average of 127 in the 1970s to 57. Meanwhile, fatal shootings of unarmed citizens by police are exponentially on the rise and 27 citizens have been killed just in Louisiana in 2015.
Police are Already a Protected Class in 37 States
While Louisiana is currently the only state that has made police a protected class, 37 states, including Louisiana, already have enhanced penalties for assaulting police officers. Some of these aggravated penalties make the crime punishable by death.
It is an Aggravated Penalty to kill an officer in California. California law provides for the death penalty if the victim was a cop, prosecutor, someone making an arrest, an elected official, or public officials trying to fulfill the course of their duties.
It is also a specific battery crime to batter a police officer. It can be either a misdemeanor or felony, punishable by one year in jail and a $1,000 fine or three years in jail and a $10,000 fine.
San Diego Criminal Defense and Police Accountability Lawyer
At the Law Offices of David M. Boertje, we understand that when it comes to your word versus an officers, the odds are already stacked against you. We handle all misdemeanor and felony criminal cases including charges of assaulting or evading a police officer and charges of impeding a police officer’s activities. We are dedicated to protecting your constitutional rights and freedom, and have successfully represented many defendants. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, contact attorney David Boertje today for a free consultation.