Louisiana Doubles The Stupid With Their Blue Lives Matter Bill
May 19, 2016 (Mimesis Law) — Colorado Representative Ken Buck’s asinine attempt at making a federal case out of violence against police officers, real or perceived, through his “Blue Lives Matter” bill was bad enough. Equating “harms” suffered by those who chose a job granting them a license to kill with actual harms suffered by people with immutable characteristics like race or sexual orientation was enough to see Buck’s legislation gain little traction in Washington.
Unfortunately, Louisiana Representative Lance Harris took a page from Buck’s special brand of stupid and created his own “Blue Lives Matter” bill, now awaiting Governor Bel Edwards’ signature. Signing this into law means even minor offenses become “hate crimes” carrying more jail time, prison overcrowding, and added taxpayer expenses. Disturbingly, no one in Louisiana grasps this concept. And if that’s not stupid enough, the bill was invoked in the name of deceased Texas Deputy Darren Goforth.
The bill is being sponsored by Rep. Lance Harris, a Republican from Alexandria, who says it’s necessary because of attacks on first responders and law enforcement officers. Harris specifically said the bill is in response to the shooting death of Darren Goforth, a sheriff’s deputy who was shot and killed at a gas station in Houston, Texas. The suspect, Shannon Miles, was accused in an indictment of retaliating against Goforth because he was a police officer.
It’s questionable why a Louisiana representative would find it necessary to criminalize conduct in Louisiana based on events occurring in Texas. The only explanation one could muster is virtue signaling to law enforcement in the event Harris needs their support for reelection. Then again, it could just be the old “tough on crime” focus. Regardless, Harris wants people to know those who voluntarily chose a job that grants them special privileges beyond the layperson, and yet suffer from inane matters like the “Viral Video” or “Ferguson Effect,” allegedly making their lives harder, deserve extra protection.
Never you mind this is a job in a state that’s produced questionable legal outcomes in the last few years. Any sort of mistreatment at the hands of the public now merits some manner of hate crime enhancement. The Louisiana Blue Lives Matter bill extends support to law enforcement, both active and retired. It also expands the “violence” element and criminalizes far more than Buck’s federal bill. Now, if you steal a cop’s purse, urinate on their grave, or trespass on their property, you’ve committed a hate crime, one with far more severe consequences than Louisiana’s legislature might have considered.
The current hate crime text places a misdemeanor “hate crime” at a maximum fine of five hundred dollars or six months’ imprisonment. A felony carries a maximum fine of five thousand dollars and five years’ imprisonment. The current statute as listed notes if an offense is designated a hate crime, the “hate crime” sentence shall run consecutively with the offense. Passing Representative Harris’ “Blue Lives Matter” bill means if a person were found guilty of peeing on a cop’s grave, they have the potential to serve a year in jail, since there’s six months for the misdemeanor and six months for the hate crime enhancement.
It gets worse. You don’t have to be an active duty police officer in order to receive “protection” under the Louisiana Blue Lives Matter bill. The current proposal extends this new courtesy to retired law enforcement officials, parole officers, wildlife enforcement agents, correctional officers, and well, just about anybody they want.
(3) “Law enforcement officer” means any active or retired city, parish, or state law enforcement officer, peace officer, sheriff, deputy sheriff, probation or parole officer, marshal, deputy, wildlife enforcement agent, state correctional officer, or commissioned agent of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, as well as any…whose permanent duties include making arrests, performing search and seizures, execution of criminal arrest warrants, execution of civil seizure warrants, any civil functions performed by sheriffs or deputy sheriffs, enforcement of penal or traffic laws, or the care, custody, control, or supervision of inmates.
Take a close look at that text and you’ll see the lunacy of Louisiana’s current proposed legislature. Toss a rock through Officer Derrick Stafford’s window because you think he killed Jeremy Mardis? That’s a hate crime. It would also be a hate crime to tell a traffic cop you’re going to burn his house down on receipt of a speeding ticket, even if you didn’t really mean it.
House Bill 953 passed to the Governor’s desk with full approval from Louisiana’s legislature. Signing the bill into law means Louisiana becomes a battle ground for criminalizing the very issues that made Ken Buck’s federal legislation a bad idea, despite Representative Harris’ inability to ascertain the necessity of this legislation in Louisiana, means crowded court dockets, increased jail populations, and more taxpayer wasted funding.
Legislators are tasked with passing laws. That’s part and parcel of the job. They’re also responsible to their constituency, which includes far more than police officers. Before the “Blue Lives Matter Act” is Louisiana Law, Governor Edwards would be well served to consider the implications enacting this tripe will have not just in Louisiana, but potentially nationwide.