Friday, February 10, 2017

"Blue Lives Matter More Than Your Civil Rights" Bill Advances in KY

So, you're driving along at the speed limit when a state trooper pulls you over. You say "I don't think I was speeding" and he drags you out of the car, throws you face down on the hood and cuffs your hands behind your back while screaming "Stop Resisting!  Stop Resisting."

And now you're in jail, facing fines and prison time for the crime of "attacking" a police officer by merely asking why you were stopped.

That's going to be life in Kentucky if this piece of shit passes.

A bill that would make police officers, firefighters and emergency medical personnel a protected class under Kentucky’s hate crime law passed easily through a House committee Wednesday.
State Rep. Kevin Bratcher, the sponsor of House Bill 14, said the proposal is intended to protect police and give judges more “tools” when sentencing people who attack officers.

“I just want people to know that if you’re going to harm one of our first-responders, that we’re going to give you the maximum that we can,” Bratcher said.

Opponents argued that police are different than others protected by the hate crime law because they chose to go into the profession. Including an occupation on the list of protected classes would water down the law by expanding it beyond historically oppressed minorities.

“This is not about making police officers safe,” said Rep. Darryl Owens, D-Louisville. “This is about something else. Bottom line, there is no place for this in hate-crime legislation. Where do you stop?”
You don't.  This bill gives cops carte blanche to arrest, abuse, even torture by taser anyone they want.  All the cop has to do is claim he was attacked, even as his "attacker" lies unconscious and bloody at the feet of the untouched cop.

Or as veteran Stephen Gardiner wrote to his legislators:
It is important to keep the purpose of hate crimes laws in focus. They are not just a way to tack on penalties for motivations considered particularly offensive. From their conception, such laws have been a way to recognize that certain types of violence impact not just individuals, but whole communities. Hate crimes discourage entire groups of people from exercising their rights. The long and ugly history of lynching is only the most blatant example of the impacts hate crimes have by intent. The origins of racist terror groups such as the Ku Klux Klan were in an intent to deter Black people from voting, assembly, speech and other rights guaranteed by the constitution. 

HB 14 is political theater. It ignores the real problems faced by police officers, chronic over-policing in Black and low-income neighborhoods, and worsening police-community relations. It ignores our Commonwealth realities of mass detention. It ignores our extraordinary incarceration rates and already overcrowded jails. 

Police work is difficult, at times dangerous. To be clear, willfully targeting a law enforcement officer because of their occupation is a heinous crime. However, Kentucky law already provides enhanced penalties for assaulting a police officer and treats the murder of an officer as a capital crime, without the burden of proving motivation. HB 14 is an attempt to legislate “respect” for law enforcement even while their benefits dwindle, training is inappropriate or underfunded, and their mission as it exists has led to overflowing jails, the disproportionate and aggressive policing of Black neighborhoods, and mutual mistrust between police and the most vulnerable communities in the state. 

Meanwhile, this bill suggests Kentucky has a kind of trouble Kentucky does not have. According to the highly motivated tracking of the Officer Down Memorial Page, across our entire state, no officers were killed in 2016. Even one would be too many, but HB 14 encourages a misperception that Kentucky and particularly Black neighborhoods in Kentucky are dangerous places for officers to work. The data suggests the opposite is true. 

Charges of resisting arrest and intimidation are extraordinarily discretionary. HB 14 transforms discretionary misdemeanors, for petty offenses or no offense at all, into discretionary felonies. This is an obvious threat and offense against Black neighborhoods and youth who are already too aggressively policed. In the current political climate and according to early showings of how similar bills are enforced elsewhere, these discretionary felonies are all too likely to be realized on the bodies of peaceful protesters as well. In this way, HB 14 fits well among the recent slew of reactionary anti-protest laws nationwide. Poor, homeless and mentally ill people are extraordinarily vulnerable to HB 14, as they may be less able to negotiate tense and frightening encounters with police, and less able to contest unjust charges.

The only purposes HB 14 serves are to allow legislators to make a public show of support for police that is show only, and to further the abuse of Black people and protesters. Kentucky doesn’t need this bill.
It will pass of course and Governor "Trump's dick tastes like caviar" Bevin will sign it.  There are many steps on the road to totalitarianism, and this bill takes a giant one.


Robert Skinner said...

Good news is I will never go to Ky again. I do not need to risk being exposed to a KY cop.

Yellow Dog said...

Sorry to hear that. Unfortunately, these bills are passing all over the country. Probably be a national one soon.