Thanks to the Kentucky House of Representatives, police lives officially matter. We can all sleep safer tonight knowing that lawmakers want to protect police officers.
The “Blue Lives Matter” bill would make attacks on police officers a hate crime. It is important to note that an attack on an officer already brings a harsher penalty than one on a civilian. Further, hate crimes are specific protections afforded to people who are targets of violence because of who they are — how they were born — be it their race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity.
This is a sham bill that makes a symbolic gesture to those who oppose or do not understand the Black Lives Matter movement, and gives a middle finger to minorities.
For those feeling threatened that society is becoming too politically correct, I hope you aren’t offended by this politically-correct preface: Police lives matter! Yes, we should do everything possible to protect people who put their lives on the line to keep the rest of us safe.
That’s not what this bill does.
This bill is a vendetta against Black Lives Matter. And the message implicit in “blue lives matter” is that Black Lives Matter is a threat and must be matched.
Here’s what Louisville BLM organizer Chanelle Helm said in a letter to LEO: “By gaining publicity as the ‘Blue Lives Matter’ bill, the backers of HB-14 created and fed a false equality between the lives of Black people and the institutional and legal support already overwhelmingly in favor of the work and tactics of police officers. This white supremacist narrative also perpetuated the fearmongering fallacy that Black Lives Matter activists and all those who support an end to police brutality are a physical threat to police officers.”
“It cannot be overstated — extending hate crime laws to a profession mitigates and diminishes the purpose and intended effect for those laws, making the world that much more dangerous yet again for persons and groups that most need protection under these laws,” Helm wrote.
Supporters of this bill clearly don’t understand what Helm and others experience and how backward this bill is — another slap in the face for those who have suffered actual oppression for decades, even centuries. Why else mock the national movement to end violence against blacks by ripping off the name of their movement.
Louisville Republican state Rep. Kevin Bratcher said during the House debate, “You guys don’t know what’s in my heart and I don’t know what’s in your heart, but I don’t know how anybody could vote against this bill.”
Kevin’s right, he doesn’t know what’s in the minds and hearts of the people who really need the protection of hate crime laws. Let me break this down for you, Kevin, as a white man (I’m just guessing — I didn’t have to look that up on Google), you have not endured decades of violence and harassment.
The fact of the matter is, if we want to do something for police officers and first responders, by all means please do, but don’t do it in response to a group advocating for black lives.
If this isn’t about paranoia of BLM coming to a town near you, why would four Republican legislators sponsor a bill to repeal all hate crime protections just two days after House passage of the Blue Lives Matter bill? Bill sponsor Rep. Lynn Bechler, of Marion, said, “I feel very strongly that all people are equal, I don’t care what their race, gender, sexual orientation or job is. And I think that by actually having hate crime laws what we are in effect doing is saying that this person is better than the other person.”
Two things, Lynn: One, that’s great that you agree all people are equal, but not everyone else does, and they are why we need hate-crime protections. Two, that is not the “effect” of hate crime laws — and you shouldn’t be voting on bills if you are so ignorant to the reason for them in the first place.
Fortunately, state House Speaker Jeff Hoover made sure it did not come to a vote.
That is minimal consolation.
Thank you, to all police officers in the state and around the world, and thank you to Black Lives Matter, Showing Up for Racial Justice and everyone else fighting for those who need it.
But no thank you, state Republicans. I’m ashamed of the people running my state and the backwards views they are perpetuating. The arrogance behind their ignorance is most offensive. •