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.”