In many states, extra punishment is meted out to those who commit crimes against others because of their race or religion. Such hate-crime laws elevate the heinousness of crimes in which people are targeted because of their identity, their belonging to a group.
While hate-crime laws often refer to ethnicity or disability or gender, Louisiana is about to do something different. The state is poised to become the first in the nation where public-safety personnel will be a protected class under hate-crime law — a move that comes amid a simmering national debate about police shootings and whether that debate has given rise to an anti-law-enforcement climate.
The Louisiana legislation has been referred to as “Blue Lives Matter” – a phrase popularized in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which exploded following the fatal 2014 police shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Mo.