On Thursday, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed HB 953, which expands the state’s hate statute to crimes motivated “because of actual or perceived employment as a law enforcement officer or firefighter.”
Governor Edwards is a Democrat who has previously supported a bill that extended abortion waiting periods to 72 hours, and an anti-discrimination bill for LGBT people that still includes exemptions for religious organizations to discriminate against them if they so choose. CNN reports that Edwards supports HB 953 because of police force within his own family:
“Coming from a family of law enforcement officers, I have great respect for the work that they do and the risks they take to ensure our safety,” Edwards said Thursday, adding, “they deserve every protection that we can give them.”
Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Allison Padilla-Goodman says that the bill “weakens the impact of the Hate Crimes Act by adding more categories of people who are already better protected under other laws,” and points out that working in a profession is not an immutable characteristic.
The bill was inspired by the death of sheriff’s deputy Darren Goforth. He was shot and killed at a gas station in Texas. Suspect Shannon Miles was allegedly seeking retaliation against a police officer. It’s true that police officers have been attacked because of their uniform, but they are hardly without the law’s protection, and incidents in that context are rare. According to the FBI, there were 5,462 hate crimes reported in 2014, 47% of which were motivated by race.
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