2016 September 14
“Blue Lives Matter” Bills
On May 26, 2016, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed into law HB 953, or what media outlets are dubbing the “Blue Lives Matter” bill. The first of its kind, HB 953 prosecutes crimes against law enforcement and other first responders as hate crimes, increasing their penalties and punishments.
It succeeded in the Louisiana State Legislature, passing unanimously in the House and with only three “nays” in the Senate. This bill was introduced and passed back in April and May, months before the shootings of five police officers in Dallas, the death of Alton Sterling, and the death of Philando Castile.
These recent tragedies, however, have inspired many other “Blue Lives Matter” bills akin to Louisiana’s, as well as some comparable backlash against them. The resulting conflict has created an atmosphere of opposition between law enforcement and the black community.
Even the bill’s nickname, “Blue Lives Matter,” is politically charged itself. A phrase borrowed from the movement starting in 2014, Blue Lives Matter has set out to protect law enforcement officers and their families in response to the then recent killings of New York Police Department officers, and to anti-police brutality rallies started by some Black Lives Matter protesters.
Black Lives Matter, on the other hand, is a movement that got its start online in 2012 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in his trial for the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Created out of frustration with law enforcement’s seeming unwillingness to protect black citizens, a fundamental goal ...