#No2HB14 Blue Lives Matter Bill

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin


The Kentucky legislature introduced  House Bill 14, the so-called “Blue Lives Matter” Bill, on the first day of the 2017 legislative session. The bill  may be voted on as soon as the second week in February. From its name to the legislative details, the 'Blue Lives Matter' bill is intended to antagonize and discredit efforts for racial justice and police accountability by dividing Kentuckians with a false choice between protecting Black lives or those of police officers.

We believe this legislation is unnecessary, redundant, and undermines current hate crime legislation that is used to protect historically oppressed communities and individuals. This bill will create a new protected class of citizens based on occupation. Extending hate crime protections to specific professions will undermine those persons and groups given current protection under the Civil Rights Act. Classifying police officers as an intimidated group reverses the order of reality experienced by most citizens in their encounters with law enforcement and other factions of discrimination.

According to preliminary statistics released by the FBI in May, 41 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty in 2015, a decrease of almost 20 percent from 2014, when 51 officers were killed in 2014. By contrast, Every 7 hours, a citizen is killed by police. Of these murders, only 1% of these officers are indicted and sent to trial. By contrast, 90% of all civilian cases involving a death go to trial. 'Blue Lives Matter' is nothing more than a rallying cry from those that want to silence Black voices in defense of police brutality.

The so-called “Blue Lives Matter” movement arose after the targeted killings of police officers in New York (2014), Dallas (2016), and Baton Rouge (2016). These attacks were heinous, but they were not hate crimes in the classic sense of plausible efforts to intimidate entire communities out of exercising basic constitutional rights such as the freedom of speech, religion, assembly, or voting. While policing, particularly under divisive “us” vs. “them” regimes that fails to adequately train and supervise law enforcement officers, is dangerous work, to pretend that attacks on police are equivalent to lynching or gay bashing is an exercise in moral amnesia.

Worse still, HB 14 opens counterproductive avenues for turning trivial offenses into felonies at the discretion of police and prosecutors. Indeed, this is already happening in Louisiana--the one state where a similar law has been passed--where St. Martinville Police Chief, Calder Hebert is asserting that “resisting arrest” can be charged as a felony hate crime. So instead of prosecuting klansmen and neo-nazies for attacks on whole communities, this law may turn hate crimes law to the prosecution of “suspects” who throw up their hands to cover their eyes when maced in the face--a common instance of charging “resisting arrest.”

Raising the stakes for “resisting arrest”could have a chilling effect on public protest. The potential for political abuse, charging people exercising first amendment rights, engaging in constitutionally protected protest with spurious “intimidation” charges is high, particularly when the protesters are from the Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant, refugee or LGBTQ communities.

Given all of the problems indicated above, we urge you to sign this petition and pass it along to Kentucky lawmakers. Opposition to this law should be a clear line for every Kentuckian who cares about racial justice, civil and human rights, and respect for the Constitution. We urge you to contact your state representatives and make it clear that silence on this issue is not acceptable.

Sponsored by

To: Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin
From: [Your Name]

While supporting real protection and equitable treatment of law enforcement and public safety working in Kentucky, I write to register my opposition to HB 14, the “Blue Lives Matter” bill currently under consideration by the state House. This bill does nothing to protect law enforcement, undermines existing hate crimes laws by introducing a constitutionally unsound protection for a limited set of occupations, and invites abuse by overzealous prosecutors who could use the provisions of the proposed law to convert minor offenses into felonies and to prosecute Kentucky citizens for ordinary, constitutionally protected acts of protest, converting such activity into felony intimidation.

Support for this law is transparently political, useless or worse than useless in supporting the real issues faced by law enforcement, and all too likely to be struck down in legal challenges if used.

This bill is a direct result to the #BlackLivesMatter protesters and communities fighting for equity and justice for black people. Without the need for Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter wouldn't even exist.