The Kentucky House of Representatives passed what is colloquially known as its own "Blue Lives Matter" bill Monday, the Courier-Journal reported. The bill, HB 14, passed 77-13 in the House and will now be sent to the state Senate. If the bill is implemented, the targeting of cops and other first responders in the state would be considered a hate crime.
The Black Lives Matter chapter in Louisville described the legislation as a divisive and racist act led by white Republican reps, with Chanelle Helm telling Kentucky Public Radio outlet WFPL that understanding the origin of this racism is crucial. "I think we do need to understand where racism comes from and how it was created, and how bills like this are meant to further divide," Helm said Monday.
Rep. Jim Wayne echoed those concerns. The bill, Wayne told the Courier-Journal, should be viewed as a response to the Black Lives Matter activist group. "I strongly reject this type of legislation that pits one group against the other," Wayne said. Supporters of the bill, including Rep. John Blanton, have argued that the bill has no relation to Blue Lives Matter ideology.
The hate crime law in Kentucky currently lists race, sexual orientation, religion, and national origin as protected. State law also currently includes allowances for harsher sentences in cases of crimes against police officers, a point repeatedly pointed out by those opposing HB 14. The bill is reportedly "similar" to equally controversial legislation given the go-ahead in Louisiana last year.