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Opinion

Pass A Hate Crimes Law So Blue Lives Matter Too


  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
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  • Feb. 18, 2020 - 7:43 AM

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Pass A Hate Crimes Law So Blue Lives Matter Too

The Newnan Times-Herald

Across the South, police officers are being targeted more than any other place in the USA, and at the highest levels since the 1960s.

It’s also one of the regions where hate crime laws frequently don’t exist, or are very limited in scope.

Maybe you’ll be the one to serve our law enforcement community, by backing a bill that gives them the same level of protection that they give you.

May 11, 2019 was a tough night in Savannah, as Sgt. Kelvin Ansari was killed. A ten-year veteran of the city’s police department, he had spent the previous 21 years in the U.S. Army, protecting us abroad.

Another officer was wounded in exchange of gunfire. It’s an all too frequent occurrence in a state that doesn’t have a hate crimes law to protect police officers. That’s because Georgia is one of a few states that has no hate crimes law at all.

It’s not much better in Alabama, where seven police officers have been killed in the line of duty in just the last 13 months, like Huntsville Officer Billy Fred Clardy III.

Unlike the Peach State, it’s got a hate crimes law, but it leaves off sexual orientation, and the targeting of police officers simply for the service they perform. Alabama’s House of Representatives responded to this spike in deaths by voting to add law enforcement to the bill by a score of 92-0.

In fact, in the year 2019, the South led the entire nation in regions where police officers are targeted in the line of duty, topping all other regions for officer deaths combined. In fact, Georgia had four officers gunned down by felon fire alone, while there were none of these in the entire Northeast, where every state has a hate crime law.

According to ABC News, it’s not just a one-year exception. In 2018, 47.2 percent of felony law enforcement killings were in the South. And in 2017, more than half of all law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty were murdered in the South, according to FBI data.

And with Sgt. Ansari’s death, it was the highest number of officers killed while serving in the first five months of the year since 1965, three years before the first hate crimes law was passed.

There’s another reason law enforcement agencies are so supportive of hate crimes laws; it helps them do their jobs. My students last year found that the five states without hate crimes laws (Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, Wyoming, and Indiana) have (a) higher murder rates, (b) higher violent crime rates, (c) higher property crime rates, and (d) higher aggravated assault rates than states passing a hate crimes law.

It’s why Republican State Rep. Chuck Efstration, a former prosecutor, introduced HB-426, which passed the Georgia House 96-47. Now it’s up to the Georgia State Senate to do their part for the law enforcement community, and the people.

There are some misconceptions about the bill. A Georgia representative told me he didn’t support the bill because it would create a whole new list of “thought crimes,” punishing folks for what they “think.” Well, I read HB-426. It doesn’t create new crimes.

It tacks on additional punishments for existing crimes, targeting those who target other people just for who they are, or what they do for a living. Read it here, if you don’t believe me: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20192020/HB/426. I would support passing it, adding an amendment to include police officers under its protection.

Click on https://politics1.com/governor.htm, find your state legislature or general assembly in your state, follow the link, find your reps, and email them that you support having a hate crimes law, and one that protects police officers. Do it…if you really think that blue lives matter.

John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His views are his own. He can be reached at jtures@lagrange.edu. His Twitter account is JohnTures2.