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News > World

'Blue Lives Matter' Bill in Louisiana Makes Resisting Arrest a Hate Crime

  • A police officer arrests a protester outside Ferguson, Missouri.

    A police officer arrests a protester outside Ferguson, Missouri. | Photo: Reuters

Published 25 January 2017

Anti-police brutality activists argue that the law will be used disproportionately against people of color.

A police chief in Louisiana is now applying the its “Blue lives matter” law, approved by the state’s Democratic governor last year, which allows officers to charge those who resist arrest in any situation with hate crime against law enforcement.

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“These laws, like most laws in America, will be used to criminalize blackness itself,” Black Lives Matter activist and journalist Shaun King wrote in a column for the New York Daily News Wednesday. “White police officers will disproportionately enforce this new felony hate crime statute against people of color. Conservatives will then say more people of color are being charged with this ridiculous felony because people of color resist arrest more.”

St. Martinville Police Chief Calder Hebert told the local KATC outlet that he was already applying the law and he hopes that “law will not only save lives, but make offenders think twice before resisting arrest.”

He said the new law signed by Governor John Bel Edwards which has been in effect since last August would protect police officers from getting killed.

"We don't need the general public being murdered for no reason and we don't need officers being murdered for no reason. We all need to just work together," said Hebert. Hate crime is a serious felony in federal and state law and prosecutors could seek up to 10 years against offenders.

“Resisting an officer or battery of a police officer was just that charge, simply. But now, Gov. Edwards, in the legislation, made it a hate crime,” Hebert told the outlet.

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The law means that if someone who's arrested for petty theft, a misdemeanor, confronts the officer and resists arrest, that individual can be charged with a hate crime.

"The policemen have a job. The public has the job of helping the police. And if someone happens to be involved in criminal activity. Let the courts handle it. Don't resist physically," the chief added.

Blue Lives Matter became a slogan for those supporting the police against the Black Lives Matter movement and those demanding racial justice amid high-profile police killings and brutality against people of color.

In fact, activists say that such laws would end up being used against Black people and would only increase the number of them behind bars. Neighboring Mississippi is trying to pass similar legislation, something the state's ACLU chapter criticized Tuesday.

“Rather than focusing on how to address a non-existent problem, we need to focus on addressing the very real and pressing problem of how poor communities and people of color in Mississippi are targeted by biased over-policing devoid of transparency and accountability," said Jennifer Riley-Collins, the executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi. "The current state of policing in Mississippi and the failure of the legislature to pass meaningful police reform fosters continued community mistrust for law enforcement."

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