Louisiana enacted a new law Thursday to make it a hate crime to attack police officers.
Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill Thursday afternoon, adding police to the list of protected categories under hate crime law such as race and religion. Louisiana law adds an additional five years in prison and $5,000 in fines for an offense against one of the listed groups, which now includes cops, firefighters, and EMS personnel.
“The overarching message is that hate crimes will not be tolerated in Louisiana,” Edwards said.
The bill easily passed the state’s legislature. It amends current Louisiana law to read:
It shall be unlawful for any person to select the victim of the following offenses against person and property because of actual or perceived race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry of that person or the owner or occupant of that property or because of actual or perceived membership or service in, or employment with, an organization, or because of actual or perceived employment as a law enforcement officer or firefighter …
State Rep. Lance Harris introduced the bill after Darren Goforth, a Texas sheriff’s deputy who was in uniform, was killed in 2015, while getting gas for his patrol vehicle. “It looked like it was strictly done because someone didn’t like police officers, like a hate crime,” Harris told CNN.
“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,” he added. “Now, this protects police and first responders under the hate-crime law.”
A similar bill was introduced at the federal level in March.
“The signing of this bill gives us all an opportunity to pause and remember the extraordinary acts by seemingly ordinary people who serve our state as first responders,” State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson told Fox News. “Whereas citizens flee danger, police, fire and EMS personnel run to it.”
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