The Absurdity Of Including Police In Hate Crime Laws
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Politics and Activism

The Absurdity Of Including Police In Hate Crime Laws

Has white privilege and the dominance of men driven this Louisiana bill?

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The Absurdity Of Including Police In Hate Crime Laws
Branson Sparks

Louisiana’s governor signed a bill that allows the addition of police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical crews to the state’s hate crime laws.

Bias towards police officers, firefighters, and emergency medical crews is not legitimate or institutionalized to constitute an addition to hate crime laws. These officials, who have chosen these professions, are already heavily protected and respected within our society. Whenever these people, particularly police officers, are killed in the line of duty, the public responds immediately, versus when a police officer kills an unarmed civilian, particularly if that person has an identity associated with bias.

Often when a police officer is liable for misconduct, they do not lose their job or are not penalized enough. For example, in Honolulu, an off-duty cop publicly berated and beat a lesbian couple in a grocery store for kissing. He then arrested the couple and brought them to jail. The couple won their lawsuit against the Honolulu Police Department but wish there were more serious repercussions for the officer who targeted them. In Seattle, a police force detective yelled racially degrading language while beating a Latino man. The detective was allowed to work until public outlash became prominent, and then he was “reassigned”. These police officers are already so protected that when they do something wrong, they are not even penalized adequately for their actions.

Those who assault police officers already face heightened penalties in many states, including Louisiana. Attacks against public safety officials are also "investigated and prosecuted vigorously under current Louisiana law”. Louisiana’s proposed bill is indicative of the “blue lives matter” backlash against the Black Lives Matter campaign, advocated for by people who simply do not understand the full extent of bias and racism in the United States.

80% of the Lafayette Police Department are white men, which is slightly above the national average. Being white, and being a man, are already two identities associated with privilege in our society. It is worth mentioning that the governor of Louisiana is also a white man. Hate crime laws were first enacted to protect minority groups from the bias of privileged groups, which yes, included bias from law enforcement.

Louisiana’s hate crime laws still do not cover gender, even though slightly over half the population identifies as women, who are the victim of hate crimes simply due to their gender. Not including gender in hate crime laws also disregards hate crimes against those who are targeted for being transgender or gender nonconforming.

The addition of police officers will only negatively shift the intention of hate crime laws. Hate crimes against minorities are underreported, and if police officers who hold power in their authoritative positions are added, this would only dilute hate crime statistics. Police officers would most likely always report their “victimization”, while hate crimes against minorities would continue to be underreported. This could manipulate the statistics to appear as though police officers are the majority of the “victims” of hate crime.


Perhaps Louisiana has forgotten what hate crimes are. According to the FBI, a hate crime is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity”, NOT occupation, particularly one primarily chosen by white men. The lives of police already matter. All lives cannot matter until black lives, and the lives of all other targeted minorities and identities, matter as well.
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