A controversial bill is headed to the Louisiana governor’s desk after passing the state senate Tuesday, according to NBC News.
Louisiana House Bill 953, or the ‘Blue Lives Matter Bill,” extends provisions under the current hate crime law, covering police officers, EMS workers and first responders. The bill will be the first of its kind, making targeting police officers a hate crime.
The bill was authored last year by Rep. Lance Harris after a Texas deputy named Darren Goforth was killed in August.
“It looked like it was strictly done because someone didn’t like police officers, like a hate crime. 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,” Lance told CNN. “Now, this (new law) protects police and first-responders under the hate-crime law,” he said.
Gov. John Bel affirmed that he will sign the bill in a statement released to NBC News:
“As the son and brother of a sheriff, I have the greatest respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect our communities, state and nation. The members of the law enforcement community deserve these protections, and I look forward to signing this bill into law,” Bel said.
Critics of the law say it offers redundant protection to law enforcement.
“As a former prosecutor I know for a fact that battery of a police officer is already covered by other laws here in Louisiana,” Terrel Kent told NBC News. “To include essential peace officers, sheriffs, law enforcement officials or first responders is a slap in the face to protected classes,” said Kent.
In the wake of repeated tension between Black Lives Matter protesters and police officers across the nation, some BLM activists like Mwende Katwiwa, are afraid this bill will set an unwanted precedent. Katwiwa is a member of Black Youth Project 100 in New Orleans, a group seeking to build solidarity amongst Black youth through “leadership development, direct action organizing, advocacy and education,” according to their website.
“This bill is an attempt to counter the very vocal, visible and effective tactics of the Black Lives Matter movement and paint the police in a more sympathetic public light when in reality, they are increasingly more violent and violence against them is actually decreasing,” Katwiwa said in an interview with NBC News.
Sound off in the comments with your thoughts on the “Blue Lives Matter” bill.