Georgia bill adds police to protected class in hate crime legislation

by WorldTribune Staff, August 12, 2020

Republicans in the Georgia state senate added police as a protected class in the state’s hate crimes legislation.

The legislation makes it a crime to intimidate a police officer or any first responder. In the language of the law, anyone who harasses or intimidates any law enforcement officer while they are performing their lawful duty can be arrested.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp delivers remarks after signing House Bill 838 into law on Aug. 5. / YouTube

House Bill 838 passed the Georgia General Assembly on June 26 simultaneously with the Georgia Hate Crime Bill 426.

Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, signed the bill into law on Aug 5. It goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2021.

“House Bill 838 is a step forward as we work to protect those who are risking their lives to protect us,” Kemp said. “While some vilify, target, and attack our men and women in uniform for personal or political gain, this legislation is a clear reminder that Georgia is a state that unapologetically backs the blue.”

The legislation makes hate crimes against law enforcement personnel punishable by one to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

The measure also allows police officers to file lawsuits against any person, company or group for infringing on the officer’s civil rights “arising out of the officer’s performance of official duties” or filing a knowingly false complaint against an officer.

Leftists who support the mobs rioting in America’s cities were predictably outraged by the measure.

“This legislative action in this moment pours salt in the wounds of the Georgians of all races and backgrounds who are participating daily in protests calling for the reform of policing and expressing their support for black lives,” said Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia. “Additionally, this provision undermines the officers who strive to obey their oath of office and uphold high standards in their interactions with the public. We oppose HB 838 in its current form and will explore all options to protect the First Amendment rights of Georgians.”

Senate Republicans added police protection to the hate crimes legislation bill 426 and then moved those protections to a separate bill known as House Bill 838 in a deal between the parties, WGXA News reported.

Oklahoma lawmakers preparing ‘Back the Blue’ legislation

Oklahoma state Rep. Kyle Hilbert and state Sen. James Leewright, both Republicans, announced on July 21 plans to introduce legislation that would increase the pay and offer better retirement plans for state police and create more supportive compensation for families of fallen officers within the Oklahoma State Police.

The effort is referred to as the “Back the Blue” legislation.

“We have an aging workforce in law enforcement and as these individuals retire, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to recruit police officers,” Hilbert said.

If passed, the legislation wouldn’t go into effect until fall of 2021, but Hilbert noted that there’s more legislation on the way that is aimed to support police as opposed to demeaning the profession: “I hope we show young men and women in Oklahoma that if you put [on a] blue uniform, we are going to support you.”

Hilbert added: “If you’re a police officer in another state that’s not supporting you, come to Oklahoma, because we will.”

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