The Fight Against Blue Lives Matter.

Getty Images.

Getty Images.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed the country’s first “Blue Lives Matter” law last week, a piece of legislation that makes a civilian attack on a veteran, police officer, emergency responder, or firefighter a possible hate crime. Louisianans convicted of misdemeanor hate crimes against officers will be slapped with a $500 fine and possibly an additional sentence of up to six months.

Fusion has a very good look at why this legislation was unnecessary, and how it can be used to further crush those already deeply marginalized and poor. As most people know, across uStates, there’s an automatic add on to any interaction with a cop. Punch someone, it’s assault. Punch a cop, it’s assault of a police officer, and cops do love taking advantage of that little add on. Everything is worse if it’s directed towards a cop, it’s always been that way, so why this legislation? How would Ferguson have played out under such legislation? I think maybe there wouldn’t have been a Ferguson at all with such a law in place. This simply adds yet more weight on the side of authoritarianism, more protections for any tale a cop might spin.

Julie Baxter Payer, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, told Fusion in an email that the governor does not view this law as targeting communities of color. In the statement about the bill, Governor Edwards said “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.”

Anneke Dunbar-Gronke, part of BYP’s leadership in New Orleans, told me the law is redundant and that she sees “no existing precedent that can trust this [law] will be used in a way that will protect citizens,” adding “when it’s a police officer’s word against civilians we see how that’s played out specifically when it’s a black person or a person from a community of color.”

“The danger in that redundancy is that it further criminalizes black people, poor people, and those with the least access,” she said.

The vague language of the law, Moore-O’Neal said, also leaves communities more susceptible to legal trouble. “The purpose of these sorts of legislation is not public safety for the public but safety for the elite,” she said. “The purpose of this is to quell social unrest.” Moore-O’Neal, who is black, explained that the law can be easily interpreted to quell free speech.

“Who is to say if I am protesting or having direct action against cops?” she said. “Who is to say that isn’t a hate crime?” In late May, BYP helped organize the “National Day of Action to End State Violence Against All Black Women and Girls,” with actions that took place in at least 21 cities across the country.


  1. dianne says

    I’ve never understood this. People don’t become police officers because they are drafted or get drunk and only realize in the morning that they enrolled in the police academy while they were inebriated. Every person who joins the police force does so with the understanding that it involves interaction with people who may be dangerous. They have volunteered to perform that interaction. If there is any difference, shouldn’t it be less of a crime to assault a police officer (whose job it is to put themselves into dangerous situations and, presumably, have some training in how to be as safe as possible in such situations) than a civilian who has neither of those advantages? I don’t, of course, advocate assaulting anyone.

  2. says

    I think this legislation gives cops absolute power of narrative. They now have the complete power and authority to dictate any story, stories in which there will never be a victim, only someone trying to hurt a cop.

  3. dianne says

    @3: Like the old “joke” about how the suspect assaulted the cop by deliberately whacking his head against the cop’s club? (And is that statement a “hate crime” in LA?)

  4. dianne says

    @4: Sounds like they want the cookie but don’t want to actually go into harms way.

  5. says


    Sounds like they want the cookie but don’t want to actually go into harms way.

    More like they want to call every single situation “harm’s way”, and be able to assault and murder with impunity.

  6. sandykat says

    “a civilian attack on a veteran, police officer, emergency responder, or firefighter” -- I’m not actually planning to attack anyone, but how the bleep am I supposed to know whether someone is a veteran, for instance? It’s not like they walk around in uniform 24/7.

  7. says

    Whoah. I’m a veteran.
    So if a cop beats me up is it a hate crime?

    Hey cops, there are lots of homeless brown veterans: better be careful who you hit with your nightstick now. #unintendedconsequences

  8. AlexanderZ says

    I don’t get this law. Why beat around the bush? Just proclaim Louisiana a police state and be done with it.
    Same intent, fewer words.

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