The so-called Blue Lives Matter movement is gaining momentum through legislation that increases penalties for violence against police officers, McClatchy DC reports.
Louisiana became the first state to name public safety workers as a protected class under a hate crime law. The Washington Post reported that Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill into law on Thursday.
According to the Post, at least 37 states have taken steps to increase penalties for assaulting police officers. At the same time, McClatchy said congressional lawmakers are also pushing similar legislation.
Police organizations are promoting the idea that police officers are under siege on American streets. The news organization also pointed to a 2015 Rasmussen poll, which found that nearly 60 percent of Americans believe “the police are under attack in America and blame politicians critical of the cops for fanning the flames.”
But according to McClatchy, “a few highly publicized” cases are fueling that perception. The reality, the news organization said, is that the number of assaults against on-duty police officers is declining. McClatchy said recent FBI statistics showed 10 fewer police officers were intentionally killed in 2015 compared to 2014.
Still, some politicians are using the Blue Lives Matter movement as an election year issue. McClatchy said Pennsylvania’s Sen. Pat Toomey and five other “vulnerable” GOP Senators are promoting the Thin Blue Line Act, which has 23 co-sponsors (all Republican) and would enhance penalties for targeting public safety officers.
However, there’s some pushback. Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson, a Democrat who serves on the House Judiciary Committee and Congressional Black Caucus, called it “a slap in the face” for the movement to adopt a name similar to Black Lives Matter, according to McClatchy.
He added: “Especially when you have not done anything to improve conditions so that Black lives are not inordinately lost at the hand of law enforcement.”
Johnson and other critics point out that many states already have tough penalties for killing police officers.