Do We Need a Hate Crime Law to Protect Police Officers?

U.S. lawmakers are considering legislation that would allow prosecutors to charge anyone accused of violence against a police officer with a “hate crime.”

Parroting the language used in federal laws meant to protect marginalized groups such as racial minorities, people who are LGBTQ, and religious minorities, the Senate bill would make it a federal hate crime “to knowingly cause bodily injury to any person, or attempt to do so, because of the actual or perceived status of the person as a law enforcement officer.” The U.S. House is considering a similar bill.

That sounds laudable, until you think it through – what is the motivation for this law and how will it be abused by police officers?

Aren’t There Already Laws That Specifically Protect Police Officers?

Let’s be clear – police do not need additional “protection.” The federal government and every state already have laws that specifically make it a crime to commit violence against law enforcement officers. These laws provide harsh penalties for anyone convicted of hurting a cop, and they are prosecuted aggressively.

Do we have laws like this in South Carolina?

Threatening a Public Official

“Threatening a public official” is an offense in SC that carries up to ten years in prison. I have seen more cases of threatening a public official that were arrestees blowing off steam than actual threats, and too often police will charge a suspect with threatening a public official because the suspect made them mad, often violating a suspect’s First Amendment rights in the process…

Resisting Arrest (B) (Assaulting an Officer)

We also have an offense that is specific to assaulting a police officer – “resisting arrest (B).” Does it protect police officers?

Once in a while, we see a case where someone actually assaulted a police officer. Just as often, we discover that the officer assaulted the suspect and then tacked on an assaulting a police officer charge to be sure they do not get sued…

So Why Do They Want A Hate Crime Law?

The push for this federal law is based on the myth that police are under attack.

Politicians pandering for votes, certain news outlets, and law enforcement leaders have declared that there is a “war on cops,” being waged by ordinary American citizens – by you and me.

If you think that sounds absurd, you’re right. There is absolutely no evidence that police are more likely to be attacked now than they ever were. But, let’s take a look at where this idea comes from.

Are Police Officers Under Attack?

We have seen a few incidents in the news over the past year or more where individuals did indeed target law enforcement officers – it’s not an epidemic and it’s not something that a “hate crime” law is going to deter.

For the most part, police feel like they’re under attack because their methods are being questioned, protested, and dissected in the media and on the streets.

After police shot an unarmed African-American man in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, people took to the streets and protested. This was by no means a unique situation – these kinds of shootings have gone on for years, but, before Ferguson, they rarely received a lot of media coverage. Now they do, and police don’t like it.

To them, criticism is violence. But the horrible irony here is that the criticism they are reacting to is a reaction in itself – the American people’s reaction to seeing police kill unarmed people, most often minorities, with impunity.

Who Is Really Committing Hate Crimes?

Another way to put it – some police are the ones committing hate crimes. And they almost always get away with it – it is extraordinarily rare for a police officer to even be charged after shooting an unarmed civilian.

Police killed more than 1,000 Americans in 2016 and in 2017, and more than 10 percent of them were unarmed, according to The Guardian’s project, The Counted. About a quarter of those killed by police were African-American, while only about 12 percent of the population is African-American.

Is Congress considering any legislation to protect civilians from being gunned down in the street – or in their own homes? No.

Instead, they are poised to extend extra privileges to the people doing the shooting and killing.

If this law passes, police will charge suspects with a “hate crime” to prevent them from suing for abuse. They could charge you with a hate crime if you accidentally scratch them while they wrestle you to the ground.

Am I the Only One Who Sees the Irony Here?

Police are killing unarmed black people, nationwide. They always have, it’s just that now we are all seeing it on cellphone videos.

White (or other) police officers who respond with fear and unreasonable aggression to minorities most likely do so because of their bias against that minority – conscious or unconscious, depending on the officer.

Some of this police abuse, when it is motivated by overt, conscious racism, is a hate crime. If this ridiculous law is passed, police who commit hate crimes on civilians can now charge the civilian with a hate crime to ensure that the police officer does not face liability…

Are you really ok with that?

Columbia, SC and Myrtle Beach Criminal Defense

Criminal defense attorney Lacey Thompson only accepts SC criminal defense cases in the Columbia, Lexington, Conway, and Myrtle Beach SC areas. Call at 843-444-6122 or fill out our online contact form if you have questions or to set up a free initial consultation.

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