In May, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a new bill into legislation to protect police officers under hate crime law, dawning the name of an evolving movement – Blue Lives Matter.
The Democratic governor’s state became the first in the nation to protect officers under such law, heightening both fines and jail time for offenders.
As a movement, Blue Lives Matter began after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, two years ago.
The movement was created “to honor and recognize the actions of law enforcement to strengthen the public support of an understandably naive society,” according to the Blue Lives Matter Facebook page.
With some nationwide attention prior to the passing of the Louisiana bill, Blue Lives Matter may be growing in popularity and fostering potential like-minded legislation in other states.
Just last month, Sen. Kevin Bratcher (R-Kentucky) drafted a bill to protect law enforcement under similar pretenses, but unlike Louisiana, Kentucky is facing some opposition.
Justin Byrd, a fourth-year criminal justice student at the University of Cincinnati, believes the bill is a good thing but disagrees with the name’s likeness to the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Of course I’m in some agreement with the bill because it’s meant to protect police officers but I kind of feel like it’s a little vague and excessive considering that any assault or crime against a police officer now still calls for more serious charges,” said Byrd. “But I think they could have come up with a better name.”
Other UC community members agree and bear even stronger feelings towards the juxtaposition of the movements.
“If anything, creating a movement to protect police under the name Blue Lives Matter only hurts the goals of both movements,” said Brice Mickey, program coordinator for the Racial Awareness and Protection Program (RAPP) at UC. Mickey is also an active part of the Black Lives Matter Movement.
Some UC community members are unsurprised that Blue Lives Matter exists, and fear that legislation like that of Louisiana will spread to Ohio.
Others that The News Record contacted have never even heard of Blue Lives Matter, although Cincinnati Councilman Christopher Smitherman has publicly supported the movement. Both the movement and potential legislation are drawing mixed feelings from community members due to the counter-argumentative nature of the name.
“Police are a valued group. They do serve a purpose and protect us, but because of the history we’ve seen with police brutality, the Blue Lives Matter movement only sets up a dichotomy of us versus them, when instead the movements should be in conjunction with each other,” said Mickey.
Ohio has not seen any direct attempts from legislators to pass bills of similar nature, but awareness of the movement is growing.
Mickey has heard audible sighs when Blue Lives Matter was brought up during RAPP workshops, and sees the movement in a negative light.
“I do support the protection of police officers, I just think the movement’s intentions were more put in place to derail the conversation about why Black Lives Matter,” he said.
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