Louisiana is set to approve a bill that would consider any attack of violence against police officers, firefighters or emergency medical services personnel a hate crime.
Gov. John Bel Edwards is expected to sign the “Blue Lives Matter” bill soon. The first-of-its-kind bill has already passed both chambers of the Louisiana Legislature, CNN reports.
The ambush of Texas Sheriff Darren Goforth in August prompted Louisiana state Rep. Lance Harris to author H.B. 953.
“It looked like it was strictly done because someone didn’t like police officers, like a hate crime,” Harris said of the bill to 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. Now this [new law] protects police and first responders under the hate-crime law,” Harris said.
Harris added: “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. There is a concerted effort in some areas to terrorize and attack police, and I think this will go forward and stop that.”
Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Allison Padilla-Goodman released a statement noting that crimes against police officers are already vigorously prosecuted under current Louisiana law and that adding law enforcement under current “hate crime” statues confuses the true meaning of the hate crime law.
“Adding professional categories to the current hate crimes statute deters efforts from protecting against identity-based crimes,” Padilla-Goodman said in a release. “We are not happy that it is being signed into 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,” wrote Padilla-Goodman.
“Hate Crimes [is] designed to protect people’s most precious identity categories … like race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity and gender identity,” she continued. “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.”
Read more at CNN.