Police

Louisiana to Become First State to Make Cop Killing a Hate Crime

Democratic governor expected to sign the widely-supported legislation.

|

Tony Webster/flickr

In Louisiana, a bill passed by the legislature that would extend hate crimes protections to police officers and first responders is expected to be signed by the governor, John Bel Edwards (D), as early as this week, the Washington Post reports.

The bill (H 953) passed the House unanimously and passed the state Senate 33-3. Dubbed the "blue lives matter" bill, its supporters say it's needed in the wake of high-profile shootings of police officers.

Its sponsor, Rep. John Lance Harris (R-District 25), says he introduced it after the shooting of a Texas sheriff's deputy last year. "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 told CNN. "There is a concerted effort in some areas to terrorize and attack police and I think this will go forward and stop that."

Killings of police officers were down in 2015. There were 42 fatal shootings of police officers in 2015, according to data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, and 49 in 2014. That's higher than 2013's 33 officers fatally shot, but still down about 50 percent from the 10-year high hit in 2011 of 73 (that year, police officers in Los Angeles County alone shot and killed 54 people).

As I've written before, the difference in reactions to police killings in 2011 and police killings in the last two years can be attributed to the issue of police reform getting broad national attention. There was no police reform movement in 2011 to malign by exploiting the killing of police officers, so there was no need for a "Blue Lives Matter" campaign. The present one is misguided—individuals who kill cops are generally caught and punished. There is no systemic effort to protect cop killers from penalties the way there appears to be one to protect killer cops—from the lack of independent investigations to the privileges for police officers embedded in state laws (like the Law Enforcement Officers' Bill of Rights) or through police contracts.

A federal "Blue Lives Matter Act" extending hate crime protections to police officers was also introduced this year, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is pushing for killing a cop to be a federal capital felony.

It should be unsurprising that hate crime laws would be expanded to protect professional classes like law enforcement officers. After all, although Louisiana's law will be the first to respond to cop killings by enhancing sentences using hate crime laws, many states do have enhanced penalties for cop killings anyway. Once a new avenue for creating a protected class was opened, perhaps it was inevitable government would use it to protect its own. It's what government does.

Critics of the Louisiana bill, like the New Orleans chapter of the Black Youth Project 100, say it's a violation of their First Amendment rights. "By treating the police as specialized citizens held above criticism and the laws they are charged to enforce," the project said in a statement, "we lose our ability to exercise our First Amendment right." Opponents of hate crime laws have long argued they violate the First Amendment by punishing what people say, think, and believe, and not just their criminal acts.

NEXT: It's fine for high schools to require graduation gowns for all graduating seniors, including military members

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Killing a cop in the line of duty has always been a capital offense. So I am not sure what making it a hate crime accomplishes.

    1. Cut off his head, then take him to be tortured!

      1. Clearly he hates cops. Probably smoke pot and burns the flag too.

    2. Killing a cop in the line of duty has always been a capital offense

      Disobeying a cop, too.

      1. Also, being a dog near a cop.

    3. There’s nothing worse than a crime based on hate.

      /prog

    4. Because #BlueLivesMatter? Gotta protect the smurfs.

      I don’t know.

    5. Reminds of back when Dubya was first running for President, and the proof that he was a racist was because Texas didn’t have a hate crime law. He pointed out that in the most notable racially motivated crime, of the three people involved, two got the death penalty, and the third got life without parole. So what was the point of having a hate crime law, to kill them twice?

  2. Black and Cop Lives Matter!

    1. “Black and Blue”

  3. The Slippery Slope does not exist.

    1. Mea Tulpa

      1. That’s funny on so many levels…

    2. The slippery slope is only invoked when bad things happen incrementally. When good things happen incrementally, it’s called progress.

      What could be more good than making extra rules to protect our heroes?

    3. No slope has ever been slippery before, and in fact slopes don’t even exist. Suggesting that they might displays a disturbing lack of faith in government.

  4. Some All pigs are more equal than others.

  5. Somewhat depressingly, this makes the governor of LA only the third-most despicable person I know of named John Edwards.

    1. Fourth. The former NC senator, the scam psychic, and the “sinners in the hands if an angry God” guy.

  6. So murdering white cis civilians is not a hate crime if you’re keeping score. We really need to make killing women a hate crime though.

    1. no, that’s a sex crime!

  7. Dear Louisiana;

    Among other problems with this, you backwards French morons, is that HATE CRIME LAWS SHOULD NOT FUCKING EXIST CAN YOU GET THIS THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULLS.

    Hugs and kisses,

    JB

    1. Please do not conflate the people of Lousi…ah fuck it. I left that place because there were too many drooling moron hicks.

  8. What a useless gesture. A cop-killer is gonna be swiftly executed anyway.

    1. Before or after the trial?

      1. Depends on how lucky the cops get as they randomly spray bullets at anyone who looks like, or doesn’t look like the killer.

  9. Damn, next thing you know we’ll be forced to bake cop cakes with those little swastika sprinkles all over!

    1. You are forgetting the Blue Hissyfits that were caused by the peasants not allowing them to use a bathroom at Starbucks. Or when don’t get served at a Hardees

      So yeah, if cops are now a protected class, you will have to bake them a cake.

  10. The poor fragile babies need extra protection. I’d offer to rock them all to sleep every night but I’m only one person with only so much time. What’s even more pathetic is the law’s based on an easily disproven farce.

  11. RE: Louisiana to Become First State to Make Cop Killing a Hate Crime

    What isn’t a hate crime these days?

  12. On the plus side, maybe Tulpa will too busy jackin’ it to shit all over this thread.

  13. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Oh man, so fucking stupid

  14. Dear Reason,

    You have now exceeded the recommended daily amount of red meat for the commentariat. If I come down with gout, you’ll be hearing from my lawyer (and my doctor).

    Sincerely,
    Libertarian

    1. ^No joke. The reflexivity of the commentariat’s cop-hatred these days is borderline proggish. Not that I agree with the hatecrime bill (or indeed the policing system in this country generally) but damned if this visceral collective response doesn’t make us look like a bunch of friggin’ crazy people.

  15. I wonder what it’s like in the room when someone thinks up things like this. I suspect that the harrumphs outweigh the guffaws, but I wonder by how much.

  16. “The vandalism upon my house can only be described as a hate crime! Somebody hates me!”

    – Dale Gribble

  17. that year, police officers in Los Angeles County alone shot and killed 54 people

    Yeah, but they were all bad. /Arnold

  18. Fucking sick.

    I did get a kick out of this though: “New Orleans chapter of the Black Youth Project 100, say it’s a violation of their First Amendment rights. “By treating the police as specialized citizens held above criticism and the laws they are charged to enforce,” the project said in a statement, “we lose our ability to exercise our First Amendment right.”

    Self aware much?

    1. Maybe getting the primary proponents of these laws to realize how bad the laws are isn’t really such a bad thing.

  19. Great. So now Republicans have no excuse to complain when Democrats come up with more “hate crime” classes of their own. In response to which issue are they going to completely fold next?

  20. FYTW explains so much.

  21. So how long before all the rest of the public employees become a protected class? On your knees before the new aristocracy, peasants!

    1. Where I live they added “bus driver” so it’s only a matter of time.

  22. Maybe I’m just a simplistic m’f-er, but if you’re going to deprive someone of their life without a reasonable self-preservational cause, I fail to see how your level of hate for them should have any bearing on your sentence.

  23. The crime in Louisiana is the cops. It may be the most corrupt state in the union. They stick a speed limit sign in a field covered with weeds then write out of state travelers tickets for $175. When are we going to start protecting people from the police.

  24. So what is it when a cop kills someone? A love crime?

    1. Street justice, according to the Holy State.

  25. in the ever more relevant words of mr. Incredible, “when everybody’s special noone’s special”

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.