Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is set to sign a bill into law that would classify any violent attack on police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel a hate crime. According to The Root, the so-called Blue Lives Matter bill is the first of its kind.
State Representative Lance Harris authored the bill after Texas sheriff’s deputy Darren Goforth was shot and killed last year. “It looked like it was strictly done because someone didn’t like police officers, like a hate crime,” Harris told CNN.
“I certainly do think there is a need for it. If you’re going to have an extensive hate crime statute then we need to protect those that are out there protecting us on a daily basis,” Harris said. “There is a concerted effort in some areas to terrorize and attack police and I think this will go forward and stop that.”
In a statement, Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Allison Padilla-Goodman pointed out that crimes against police officers are already aggressively prosecuted under Louisiana law: “The 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.”
“Hate Crimes are designed to protect people’s most precious identity categories,” Padilla-Goodman said, “like race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, and gender identity. 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.”