On September 28, the Defender reported on the Blue Lives Matter ordinance introduced to the Committee of Public Safety, on June 22, here in Chicago. Currently backed by seven aldermen, if passed, the ordinance would amend Chicago’s municipal code concerning riots and acts of hate crimes, and add police, fire and first responders to the list of protected classes of hate crime victims such as race and gender.
Similarly, earlier this year, on March 16, H.R. 4760 was introduced in the House of Representatives. Cited as the Blue Lives Matter Act of 2016 (BLMA), the bill’s language seeks “To make an attack on a police officer a hate crime, and for other purposes.”
Introduced by representatives Ken Buck (R- Colorado) – chief sponsor; Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-South Carolina); Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas); Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah); and Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), the bill already has 21 co-sponsors and is now in the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations (SCTHSI).
In light of Donald Trump becoming the 45th president-elect of the United States and the possibility of a a right-wing extremist becoming the U.S. attorney general, the BLMA-2016 takes on a huge significance. Analyst and weekend activist Mike Smith says, “This is deeply disturbing and it looks like we are headed for some real troubling times ahead. If this bill is passed into law on the national level, for the time in history, a person’s profession will be elevated to the status of a protected class like religion, race and gender.
“This just isn’t right,” he says “it’s morally wrong.” Smith continues to make the argument that protected classes like race, sex and religion you can’t easily change. “You can’t change the color of the skin you’re born in but you can certainly change your profession if there’s something you don’t like about it.”
Karen Sheley, director of Police Practices Projects for the ACLU, says: “The title ’blue lives matter‘ appears to be an attempt to shift attention from the work of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has challenged police abuse. Existing laws appropriately penalize acts of violence against a police officer or other first responder,” she shares.
Now that a Trump presidency is eminent, the far right is going to come out of the closet in ways that we haven’t seen since Jim Crow laws were on the books, says Smith.
Siding with law enforcement officials are powerful interests, such as the National Rifle Association, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Fraternal Order of Police and major corporations that have contracts to supply local law enforcement agencies with high-tech and military-grade equipment like that seen on the nightly news in the aftermath of the 2014 Michael Brown shooting.
Earlier this year, activists sounded the alarm, citing the push-back against police reform when they stated “public outcry and demonstrations are seen as a threat to these complex contracts between local law enforcement agencies, the federal government and major corporations.”
Now that the presidency and both houses will be controlled by Republicans, activists are gearing up for what they say will be a battle for the “the heart and soul of democracy” as they contemplate Republicans rolling back the clock any way they can, they assert.
Republicans, even though they appear to despise government programs that benefit the public, actually make their money off government contracts that they steer to their districts, according to the group. And now that they control all three branches of government, we the people can expect to see more contracts and largesse accruing to their districts, they said.
The SCTHSI subcommittee has ten Republicans and six Democrats. The Democrats are Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas); Rep. Pedro Pierluisi (Puerto Rico); Rep. Judy Chu (California); Rep. Karen Bass (CA); Rep. Cedric Richmond (Louisiana), and Rep. Louis Gutierrez, from Illinois.
“Before Trump’s presidency, we were already in challenging times. Now it’s going to be even more so,” says Smith. “The only good thing I see coming out of this is that people who didn’t work together before are now going to be forced to come together.”
Smith suggest that concerned citizens contact their congressional officials and express their concerns about this proposed national law.
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