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Monday, July 18, 2016

Gov. Abbott: Attacks on Police Should Be Charged As Hate Crimes

Posted By on Mon, Jul 18, 2016 at 12:05 PM

click image Blue lights illuminated the Texas Governor's Mansion earlier this month in remembrance of five Dallas police officers killed by a shooter who targeted law enforcement. - GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT | FACEBOOK
  • Governor Greg Abbott | Facebook
  • Blue lights illuminated the Texas Governor's Mansion earlier this month in remembrance of five Dallas police officers killed by a shooter who targeted law enforcement.
People who violently target police in Texas next year could be charged with a hate crime.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced a proposed new law called the Police Protection Act that increases penalties for crimes against police, including harsher penalties for assault on a public servant. In a press release issued by the governor's office today, Abbott said the goal is so that people who violently target police would be charged with a hate crime. 

Abbott released his proposal following two deadly attacks against police in recent weeks. Authorities say that in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday morning, 29-year-old Gavin Long ambushed police, killing three officers. On July 7, 25-year-old Micah Xavier Johnson killed five police officers during a Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas. Media reports indicate both men targeted police in response to two fatal police shootings earlier this month. Police killed Long and Johnson.

Abbott's Police Protection Act follows a federal effort to increase penalties for people targeting police called the Back the Blue Act, which Texas Senator John Cornyn proposed last week. That law would create a new federal crime for killing, attempting to kill or conspiring to kill a federal law enforcement officer. Offenders could face the death penalty. The Back the Blue Act includes mandatory minimums for people convicted of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer.

In May, Louisiana lawmakers approved a law similar to the Police Protection Act, which Anti-Defamation League opposed. ADL Louisiana Regional Director Allison Padilla-Goodman said in a statement at the time that professional categories shouldn't be included as hate crimes.

"Hate Crimes are designed to protect people’s most precious identity categories — their 'immutable characteristics' like race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, and gender identity," Padilla-Goodman said. "Proving the bias intent is very different for these categories as it is for the bias intent of a crime against a law enforcement officer — and adding professional categories to the current Hate Crimes statue deters efforts from protecting against identity-based crimes."

The Texas Legislature will consider the proposal when it convenes in January next year. 

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