New York State AssemblymanRonald Castorina (R-S.I.) introduced a bill on Thursday that would make assaulting a police officer a hate crime. The act, dubbed the “Blue Lives Matter” bill, would allow for heavier sentences than the law currently allowsfor violence against police.
Hate crimes are acts of violence against people based on race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation and national origin.
“It’s based on this climate in this country right now where police officers are being abused and they’re being disrespected, and we’re seeing they have a target on their back, in Louisiana and in Dallas,” Castorina said, the Observer reported.“You can envision this happening at a protest, where somebody might throw a rock or a bottle or a punch.”
Police officers were recently killed during Black Lives Matter protests in Dallas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Gunman Ismaaiyl Brinsley traveled from Baltimore to Brooklyn to “kill white people”as revenge for the deaths of EricGarner and Michael Brown.Brinsleyshot and killedtwo NYPD officers in July.
Despite 2015 being one of the safest years for police officers, according to apreliminary report from the FBI, Castorina said his office noticed an uptick in violence against police officers.
“I think it’s a common-sense piece of legislation that everybody can congeal around and support,” Castorina said.
Louisiana passed a similar law in May, ABC5 Seattle reported.
Castorina was joined at a press conference on Thursday by Minority Whip of the New York City Council Joe Borelli (R-S.I.). Borelli readBaton Rouge Police Officer Montrell Jackson’s Facebook post that went viral after the death of Alton Sterling.
“Had he been targeted for being a member of the African-American community, his assailant would face hate crime charges,” Borelliadded.
Borelli said he plans to introduce a resolution to the bill at a local level.
“Look, there is a national problem with the police and community relationship,” he said,Gothamistreported. “We can’t not acknowledge that. But we’re not taking anything away from anyone else’s positions, motivations, or beliefs with this bill. We’re simply saying that police officers—as we’ve seen anecdotally for a number of years, and now we’re seeing in increasing actuality—are deserving to be a protected class.”
During a protest in 2014 following the death of Eric Garner, police officers were attacked.The New York Timesreported that the reward for information on the assailants was raised to $25,000. A Brooklyn jury foundNYPD OfficerPeter Liang,the first NYPD officer that has been put on trial for killing a civiliansince 2008, guilty of manslaughter.Liang is serving probation.
Brooklyn CouncilmemberJumaane Williams (D-East Flatbush) is challenging the bill.
“With those terrible acts of terror [against police officers], there was accountability,” Williams said on Thursday, Gothamist reported. “Many of us don’t think the same things happen for black people who are killed. That’s why saying ‘Blue Lives Matter’ is redundant.”
Castorina said the new bill has nothing to do with Black Lives Matter,BuzzFeedreported.
“I don’t know that this bill really has anything to do with Black Lives Matter. This bill is particularly there to protect police officers from assault. It’s not targeting the Black Lives Matter movement. In fact, the Black Lives Matter movement has had many a peaceful protest without incident, and certainly we want to promote that,” he said.