Kentucky becomes 2nd state to pass ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill

sirenssIn my previous blog post, I discussed the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill and its implications making resisting a police officer a hate crime in Louisiana. Kentucky is now the second state to pass this law.

This bill that would make attacks on police and other first responders a hate crime under Kentucky law sailed through the House Judiciary Committee. House Bill 14, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Bratcher was approved on a 16-2 vote. Republican Gov. Matt Bevin signed the blue lives matter bill into law on March 24th.

The bill gained attention after the targeted killings of police officers in New York (2014), Dallas (2016), and Baton Rouge (2016). These attacks were heinous, but they were not hate crimes in the classic sense of plausible efforts to intimidate entire communities out of exercising basic constitutional rights such as the freedom of speech, religion, assembly, or voting. While policing, particularly under divisive “us” vs. “them” regimes that fail to adequately train and supervise law enforcement officers, is dangerous work, to pretend that attacks on police are equivalent to lynching or gay bashing is an exercise in moral amnesia.

“Bevin gave House Bill 14 – unofficially known as the commonwealth’s “Blue Lives Matter” bill – the final approval it needed to become law this week, although the measure won’t go into effect until this summer. The fledgling law will add provisions for police and other first responders to the state’s current hate-crime law, which already includes race, religion, color, sexual orientation and national origin as protected classes.” 

As the Blue Lives Matter bill gains attention, once again Black Lives Matter activist see the bill as ‘foul play.’ The Black Lives Matter chapter in Louisville described the legislation as a divisive and racist act led by white Republican reps. “I think we do need to understand where racism comes from and how it was created, and how bills like this are meant to further divide. Black Lives Matter activist say that it will allow police officers to pull protestors off the street during demonstrations. Democrat representative had this to say, “I’m concerned that HB 14 will give this kind of fearmongering a license to charge me with a hate crime for doing what my ancestors did during the Civil Rights Movement — standing up for the diversity of our state and the most vulnerable of our communities,

This bill however in Kentucky saw increased bipartisan support.

Again in Kentucky, they have passed a law to protect police as a protected class before they even passed laws making transgendered people a protected class under the hate crime law. Kentucky already has advanced penalties for those who target police officers. Assaulting a police officer is a felony in the state, and prosecutors can seek the death penalty for those who kill a police officer.

Supporters of the bill say that they are not trying to attack any group but just protect their own. “‘Blue lives matter’ is what the title originally was for this bill and it doesn’t demean any other ‘lives matter,’” one supporter said. “I’m one of those that believe ‘all lives matter.” Of course, Black Lives Matter responds to this argument by noting that believing that ‘All Lives Matter’ is the reason why this bill is so inheritably wrong. The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is to acknowledge that black lives matter equally and just as much as white lives. To say ‘All Lives Matter’ is to say that black people are not making a reasonable complaint, that it is perceived bias.

There is no evidence that the Blue Lives Matter bill is necessary or will make first responders safer in the commonwealth.

According to preliminary statistics released by the FBI in May, 41 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2015, a decrease of almost 20 percent from 2014, when 51 officers were killed in 2014. By contrast, Every 7 hours, a citizen is killed by police. Of these murders, only 1% of these officers are indicted and sent to trial. By contrast, 90% of all civilian cases involving a death go to trial. ‘Blue Lives Matter’ is nothing more than a rallying cry from those that want to silence Black voices in defense of police brutality.

My view is this, everyone can agree violence is bad but especially against our first responders. In a time like this where people are divided because of violence, it is imperative that we make laws that will bring people together. If we want to support both communities and first responders, we should train officers on how to avoid unnecessarily dangerous encounters, de-escalate potentially violent situations, recognize the stress police officers and their families confront, and provide mental health resources for those who need assistance. This bill doesn’t address any of these worthy goals.

 

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8 thoughts on “Kentucky becomes 2nd state to pass ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill

  1. It’d be nice if lawmakers were putting all that energy in creating bills that benefit the safety of the police and their citizens. It’s intriguing how quickly lawmakers have implemented laws to protect the police but haven’t done anything to create measure that ensure the public that cops too, are held accountable for unjustifiable killings. I agree, this only furthers the division, and it deflects being responsible for the real issues happening across America. Obviously police officers have a difficult and tough job; however, communities, especially those of color, shouldn’t have to live in fear by the police on a daily basis. Too often we hear members within a community describing their lack of trust or dislike for the police as a whole. No one should live in fear, but this bill only dances around the problems that need to be addressed. Personally, I think bills like this give off the impression that cops lives are more important than citizens. With an increase of frustration within communities, this does nothing to relieve people of the fear of being killed by a cop. I think this bill is unnecessary, and I doubt that any sane individual thinks that someone who kills police should roam around free without any consequences.

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  2. This is an interesting blog post. I had never heard of the “Blue Lives Matter” bill until now.

    First off, it’s alarming that police have become a protected class before transgendered people as a protected class, especially under late crime law. The individuals of the LGBTQ+ community are most definitely targeted for hate crimes pending the new legislation from local and federal governments.

    Like you stated above, this bill undermines the Black Lives Matter Movement because it takes away from the underlying meaning between African Americans’ point of view and the understanding of lawn enforcement. This is where community policing comes in. We as a society need to hold each other accountable and understand that police officers have a job to complete. On the other hand, police and law enforcement need to begin organizing a plan that fosters positive relationships between the society and officers on the ground. It will help reach a better understanding which will hopefully, lower crime rates in the specific neighborhood.

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  3. First and foremost, I do not agree with the idea of hate crimes. There are two parts to a crime: actus reus (the act itself), and mens rea (the intent to do the act). Let’s take a simple hypothetical first degree murder case. A white male has murdered a black male with premeditation. The white male physically took the life of the black male (actus reus) and meant to cause the black male to lose his life (mens rea). This is all that is considered when determining the guilt of an individual. Motive is a completely separate topic that has zero bearing on guilt. Some people seem to confuse the terms intent and motive. Motive is often used to help prove intent because it brings the crime into context, but itself is not part of a crime. Going back to the hypothetical situation, it shouldn’t matter what the motive was when determining guilt and punishment. If the man was killed because he stole the other’s girlfriend or simply because he was black, the crime is the exact same and should be treated as such. It seems to be unjust to punish some motives more than others. Outside of this argument, I strongly disagree with some of the points that you insinuate throughout, especially pertaining to the idea that police officers are getting away with murdering citizens and getting away with it. The overwhelming majority of officer involved shootings are justified by law. To argue otherwise is to simply not understand the law.

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    1. Seth,
      First I would like to clarify that in no way do I intend to shed any negative light on the law enforcement community, in fact my goal is only to share facts.

      Some being :
      Most of murders are committed in the “heat of passion” meaning in the spur of the moment. Many of these are preceded by an argument.

      To your point that crimes should not be differentiated based on motive or intent would mean that the difference of pre-meditated crimes and crimes of passion, defense, or mistake (presumably murder), is not important. However , It is very important. A crime that is planned and thought out is considerably more heinous.

      Hate crime legislation is in no way convicting all white offenders that commit crimes against black people or vice versa. Hate crimes are intended to punish the offenders that plan to insight fear in an entire group of people by harming a member of that group. It is imperative that you understand the grave difference between the two, and to compare someone stealing one’s girlfriend and being murdered and being killed because you are black, latino, gay, or disabled is careless.

      It is also important to note that some people’s views might be that officers killing un-armed black men is illegal and unjustified by the law. However, that is not my view. It is absolutely true that these killings are protected by law but the raw truth is: the law was never meant to protect black men.

      I included a link of people killed by the police this year: http://killedbypolice.net. I hope that you would consider rethinking your views.

      Morgan

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  4. This blog especially hits home for me because my family is from Louisiana. This law is insane, will most likely tensions even higher between police officers and civilians in Louisiana and now Kentucky. This is especially detrimental because of the already hostile relationship between African Americans down there and the police officers. This relationship has always existed, unfortunately despite people attempting to deny that these racial struggles do exist. I have heard first hand from my uncle that is an officer there about the tension that fails to make cooperation a common occurrence. It is a very scary thought that officers could use this to take advantage, especially in instances of civilians acting out their right for freedom of speech among other freedoms. You have a great point that Kentucky has passed this law before passing laws to protect transgender people against hate crimes. Transgender people are part of a legit example of a population that experiences hate crimes often and need protection against it. It is not fair that just by resisting an officer’s directions is considered a hate crime. That defies the meaning of what a hate crime is. Thanks for the post!

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  5. Morgan! Great blog post! I like many other people had never heard of the ‘Blue Lives Matter Bill’ until now. Regretfully, I didn’t read your post last week, but this one caught me up to speed very quickly. Quite frankly, I’m startled and disheartened at the lack of concern we have for many of our special populations in the country right now such as the LGBTQ+ community and the black community. This undermines all of the work that has been done by the Black Lives Matter movement. Granted, it’s great to try and protect police lives because they’re all people too but this bill should not have come before a piece of legislation that should hold police more accountable for their actions during unjustifiable killings of citizens. We have strapped them with body cameras recently but even that has proven ineffective as more and more officers are getting off with a slap on the wrist for killing innocent civilians.

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  6. I didn’t have the opportunity to read your previous blog post, and was quite exasperated by the fact there is such a thing as a “Blue Lives Matter” bill. I am a big proponent of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, and think when speaking on rhetoric that include “_____ lives matter” it denounces the importance at these marginalized identities who are at a higher risk of brutality. I wholeheartedly agree with the descriptions made by the Black Lives Matter advocates you wrote about in this blog post.

    Then moving on to the idea that resisting a police officer is a hate crime just simply makes no sense. When I think of a hate crime I think an attack on a marginalized identity not someone’s profession. I like how you went into detail about how they didn’t correlate to well with what is considered to be a “traditional hate crime”. Thank you for recognizing what we need to emphasize in regards to moving forward with police reform, very insightful opinion.

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